Golf’s Open possibilities for Sportsman of the Year

With the 135th Open Championship starting this morning, The Guardian‘s Digger has clearly been talking to his bookmaker. Paul Kelso observes that a Briton – Paul Casey? Ian Poulter? David Howell? or Monty at last? – winning the old claret jug on Sunday would make them a shoo-in for end-of-year awards after a pretty poor year thus far for British sport.

Colin Montgomerie

“So bare is the cupboard that the Little Britain star David Walliams is third favourite after he swam the Channel for Sport Relief. He is available at 8-1 with Betfair behind Steven Gerrard (5-1) and Colin Montgomerie (pictured, at 7-1)”, Kelso writes as he concentrates on the BBC Sports Personality Award.

Of course, as any SJA member will know, the BBC award is a mere upstart in the sports accolades business. The SJA Sports Awards date back to 1949.

In the past 46 years, only Tony Jacklin (twice), Nick Faldo (three times) and Sandy Lyle among golfers have managed to accumulate the votes of SWA/SJA members to win the Sportsman of the Year Award.

Track and field athletes, meanwhile, have managed to fill their boots (or spikes) no less than 23 times (and that’s without including the year that Steve Ovett refused the award because he wasn’t talking to the press at the time). Digger might need to be reminded that next month, athletics’ European Championships take place in Gothenburg, and Brits have a habit of hitting the gold standard against their continental track rivals. The Ryder Cup in Ireland in September, and even the start of the Ashes cricket tour at the end of the year, may yet offer more viable candidates than a swimming comedian.

So don’t go putting your money on Dwain Chambers just yet…

Details of the voting for the SJA Sports Awards will be posted here later this year.