I’ve just returned from a wander out onto the links to forge a first impression of this year’s Open venue. Neil and I saw a few interesting things on our short excursion away from the Media Centre and I thought I’d document them here.
There’s been a good deal of press about the fact the rough at Turnberry this year is pretty brutal. I can confirm the rumours are true. Stray off the fairway and semi-rough and you’re looking at some potentially wrist-breaking lies. If the pros didn’t have the luxury of ball-spotters and hundreds of spectators watching their efforts, I think there’d be a high number of lost balls before the week is out.
The greens look to be lush and appear to be running beautifully. But, they’re not quite as quick as you might expect and, given all the recent rain, they seem to be quite soft for links putting surfaces. We watched a good few shots checking up out there and a couple that even came back a bit.
Sergio Garcia was out with Luke Donald and appeared to be striking the ball as sublimely as ever. On the par-5 17th he ripped a drive down the middle then powered a 3-wood onto the green that ended about five feet from the cup. I didn’t see whether he knocked it in for an eagle three but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. If he can putt even half reasonably this week he must surely have a chance.
Also on the 17th, Donald played his second into a steep-faced bunker 25 yards short of the green. He had two efforts to reach the putting surface from the sand but failed both times. Garcia then came back to show him how it should be done. Rather embarrassingly for the Spaniard, however, he blasted his effort into the bunker face and it span out behind him.
Andres Romero had a troop of pals following him round as he practised with fellow Argentine Angel Cabrera. At one point he handed his wedge to a long-haired chap in a tatty pair of jeans who attempted to play a delicate shot from the fringe of the green. Neil and I looked aghast, “you’re not supposed to do that.” Neil said and I agreed. Our surprise then turned to disgust as he proceeded to take a fairly large divot from about three yards short of the putting surface. To add insult to injury he then picked up the divot and threw it away into the rough. Incredible stuff.
Ogilvy’s one big chance
I’ve been considering Geoff Ogilvy as a potential bet for this week and was pleased to get the chance to watch him play a hole. We met him half way up the par-5 7th where he’d hit a long drive down the middle. “It’s all on this shot Neil.” I said. “If he rips it I’m straight on to bluesq.com.” Unfortunately he hit a weak block that limped into a bunker so it’s back to studying the entry list and formbooks for me.
Alexander Noren was out practising all on his tod. It’s not unusual really, many of the pros prefer to practice alone. But, the phrase “Noren no-mates,” made me chuckle.