After a morning spent at the laptop, I finally wandered out on to the course mid-afternoon with editor Mike Harris, initially stopping off at the 18th tee. As we settled in to watch the tee-shots on this 470-yard toughie, it became apparent that different players see things differently or have very different gameplans.
First up was Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano who opted for the 3-wood; next up was Nick Watney who went with some kind of long iron; and finally, it was Richard Sterne who went with the driver. Who fared best? Well, we didn’t hang around to find out, but having got back to the media centre, I see that Gonzalo made par while the other two made bogey. One-up for the 3-wood strategy!
From here, we wandered out to find young amateur Jimmy Mullen, a member at one of Mike’s clubs down at Royal North Devon. The wiry youngster was acquitting himself admirably having won the final qualifier at North Berwick, and stood at level par as we picked him up on the 13th green. By the time I left after the 15th he hadn’t missed a shot and as I write he’s one-under after a birdie on 17. Impressive stuff.
A couple of years ago, Mike and I played with him in the Silver Medal at Royal North Devon on a foul day. He quietly went about his business compiling a commendable – and indeed – winning round of level par 72, while my score, shamefully, started with the next prime number up the scale. Two years later he’s teeing it up at The Open and I occasionally manage to break 80.
We wish him well for the rest of the week and the future, and I’m just relieved that what he saw of my golf that day didn’t scar him for life!