Searching for players on Open practice days is a little like a game of hide and seek. It’s particularly tricky at Birkdale as the towering dunes make it impossible to see if anybody is coming through anytime soon. The sign beside the green might say, Players Approaching but they could be four holes back. Eager spectators congregate and the rumour mills whirr into action, Harrington’s out, he’s on the sixth, it’s Stenson next and he’s playing with Tom Watson. There are a lot of very patient and extremely keen fans out there.
I set myself a task that should have been relatively straightforward. My mission was to catch up with ultra-slick Frenchman Grégory Havret. But, after 25 minutes of hiking over, round and between sand hills I hadn’t seen a single golfer, let alone our hero. But, eventually, a group of stylish looking golfers accompanied by a sizeable entourage of slick gents in fitted waterproofs and attractive women wielding Longchamps handbags appeared on the horizon. They could only be French and, when I spotted a tall figure dressed all in cream strutting his way on to the 12th tee, I knew I had my prey cornered.
Havret was playing an all French fourball match partnering Jean van de Velde against Gregory Bourdy and Jose Filipe Lima. I couldn’t be certain who was winning but I’m pretty sure it was GH and JVdV. They teed off first on the 12th and Grégory holed a gritty putt for a par at the tough par three. They then halved the long 13th in four.
A quick word on Gregory Bourdy. He may not be as uber-stylish as our Grégory but he certainly brings more than a modicum of class to the links. Clad in tight-fitting navy blue trousers and a navy blue lambswool sweater he, like Havret, exudes the sort of well-groomed elegance that pros from the UK and US seem to find so elusive. Well done Grégory and Gregory.