The best laid plans and all that!

No sooner had I set foot outside the media centre to head off to the practice ground and course for an initial recce than a series of distractions arose that have meant that 3 hours later I still haven’t seen a single blade of Birkdale’s competitive grass.

First, Sergio Garcia followed Padraig into the interview room to bat away questions about last year, what life would have been like if he’d won, and what his hopes and aspirations are for this year. To my mind – as well as that of the bookies – Sergio is the man to beat this week, although with regard to the mantle of pre-tournament ‘favourite’, he feels that it is only of any relevance if he himself feels it inside. I think he really does this year, although he couldn’t be tempted into actually saying as such.

Then it was off to Callaway meeting that had slipped my mind to discuss imaginative and creative ways of bringing slightly different equipment coverage to the magazine. Keep reading to see if any of the things discussed come to fruition as I’m sure at least some of them will.

And then it was onto a Q&A session with The Golf Foundation, DJ Spooney and Professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University – Britain’s sports science epicentre – to learn about the ways in which the Golf Foundation is hoping golf can be used as a ‘life skills’ learning medium for the kids of today. Very noble and well-intentioned stuff which deserves to succeed in its aims to help kids learn about respect, honesty and self-motivation – almost incidentally – as they get to grips with the game via junior derivatives like the increasingly popular Tri-Golf using plastic clubs and scaled-down playing arenas.

Spooney is an extremely eager ambassador for the The Golf Foundation and its Golf Roots programme, attempting to take the sport to inner city kids who might otherwise have no chance of ever picking up a club. Speaking to him it’s clear that this is a burning passion, borne out of a desire to make the sport more accessible to kids who, like him, hail from inner city concrete jungles where the nearest course might as well be a million miles away. He is enthusiastic, articulate, keen to cast golf’s net ever wider, and very obviously has no ulterior motive here beyond these simple, idealistic aims. Very refreshing stuff – and top marks to him too for remembering my name from a brief golfing encounter a couple of years ago at The London Club.

Then Graeme McDowell came into the interview room to be asked the slightly silly question, “No-one has ever gone on to win The Open after winning at Loch Lomond. Do you think it’s possible?” He managed to come up with a polite response when the temptation must have been to say, “I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for pointing it out – I’ll just go and book my flights home and save myself all the aggro here at Birkdale this week!”

Right – now I really am going to get out on the course if it kills me… more later.