The passing years have done nothing to erode golf legend Gary Player's sharp mind, so you can trust his judgement when he declares The Open to be "by far the greatest championship in the world".
At 82, Player's boundless enthusiasm and abundant energy are as much a source of awe as his outstanding playing career.
The South African won nine majors, including three Open Championships, and competed at the sport's oldest landmark event for 46 straight years.
In short, he is a man well qualified to make a call on which of the majors carries the most gravitas.
If any of this week's field were listening to Player, who spoke on Wednesday for around 40 minutes on the 50th anniversary of his second Open victory at Carnoustie and received a standing ovation at the end, they could not fail to have been inspired.
His love for the tournament has not diminished in the slightest.
"The Open is by far the greatest championship in the world," he said. "It's the only tournament where yardage doesn't really mean anything. It's insignificant. With other tournaments, you can say it's 160 yards. Even Ray Charles could say, well, give me an eight iron because that's the yardage.
"But here you can hit a drive and a wedge to the first hole today. Tomorrow it could be a driver and a three iron, which happens regularly in most Opens."
That element of unpredictability has been a common theme emerging from the media conferences this week - many in the field just do not know how they will play this course.
The fairways, they say, run faster than the greens, making every club in the bag over-powered. It teases the possibility of making mammoth yardage off the tee, but, as the sage Player suggests, that might not offer the advantage it would elsewhere.
Burns, bunkers and other hazards await, while a good shot might turn bad because the ball rolls 40 yards further than intended.
Those who opt to plot a more considered route around the course may be able to mitigate some of those risks, but with favourable conditions forecast, proponents of that conservative approach could miss out on scoring opportunities.
The unknown quantities at play make it impossible even for a man of Player's wisdom to nail down a likely winner.
He said: "The way the golf course is set at the moment, as the conditions are, anybody who plays in this tournament could win.
"As we've seen some big shocks in the last few years, people you've never heard of winning and coming out. Well, it's going to be no different here if the conditions remain as such."
It serves perhaps as a warning to the supposed leading contenders, but a source of optimism for the rest. It's all to play for.
14 de diciembre 2018
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