The smell of Sunday

July, 18, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- It's Sunday morning on the coast of Scotland. Major Championship Sunday, a day with an energy all its own. People get up early and march on the ancient streets toward the Old Course from every direction. Families, groups of colleagues, of friends. They carry clothes for heat and cold, for wind and rain.

The Lexus hybrid courtesy cars circle into the Royal & Ancient clubhouse, golfers coming and going. There's Tom Lehman. There's Mark Calcavecchia, whose fleeting dream of winning died a dozen hours ago. The later the hour, the closer the arriving golfers stand to the lead, the greater the pressure.

The air sounds like seagulls. It smells faintly of breakfast. The skies are tall and gray, the wind blowing just a bit. It's barely chilly. My editor and I walk toward the cemetery in the ruins of the cathedral, built nearly a thousand years ago to house the bones of St. Andrew and destroyed during the Reformation. Over in the corner are the graves of Old and Young Tom Morris. White birds flap and shriek, nesting in the arches of the graveyard gates. There's a 2010 ball marker resting on Young Tom's grave.

We stand between two gray ruins. Crumbled façades. It's only when standing in the middle of them that you realize how immense the building must have been. It makes me feel insignificant. If this enormous cathedral can be destroyed, why would we think the R&A will be here in 200 years? That any of this will be? I think about how time is so big and we are so small, but I also think about Paul Casey struggling to sleep last night.

This might not matter in two centuries, but this morning, as a town awakes and an energy takes over the streets, it feels like the most important thing in the world.

Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN and is executive producer of TrueSouth and co-executive producer of Backstory. He is the author of New York Times bestselling The Cost of These Dreams.



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