There arent very many in the field who can claim to have played golf with me. Let me see. Choi no, Norman no, Furyk no, Harrington no. This is becoming rather dull so let me quickly whiz down the list and count them up. Right, there is one player with whom I have golfed and his name is Chris Wood.
If you look back over my previous blogs you will eventually come to a thrilling account of the Press-Am curtain raiser to the Portugal Nations Cup. Played at Val do Lobo in the Algarve, it is one of the premier events of the golfing calendar. I had the honour to represent England last year and partner three fellow internationals; Ben Evans, Ben Parker and Chris Wood. The first two have since turned professional and are plying their trade on the Challenge Tour while Chris is still, like me, an amateur.
All three of them were off plus four (up until then the only plus fours I had seen on a golf course were wrapped around someones legs) and played brilliantly. With one score to count on each hole, we came in 15 under par and beat the 11 other national teams to claim first prize, a rather unattractive ashtray which, on its own, wasnt sufficient to persuade me to take up smoking.
Anyway, I was delighted to learn that my erstwhile team-mate Chris had come through the qualifying rounds to make it here to Birkdale. His first round 75 was good but his second round 70, which he finished by chipping in for a birdie at the last, was quite brilliant. Clearly those tips Id given him out in the Algarve were proving enormously helpful
This morning I followed him for his front nine and his four over at the turn was scant reward for some superb golf. For me, the highlight wasnt the flawless birdie three at the fifth but the moment on the seventh fairway when he spotted me, came over and asked how I was. Well, the referee, raker, scorer and other assorted group followers who were accompanying Chris and his playing partner Jay Williamson were dead impressed. Previously a little suspicious of the yellow armband that allowed me inside the ropes to join them, they subsequently gave me a great deal more respect.
Chris is on course to claim the Silver Medal presented to the leading amateur and, as I very much hope he will, should he win it, it will be interesting to ask him afterwards whether he rates it as big a triumph as being in the team that captured the Portugal Nations Cup Press-Am.