After a decent lunch, Neil and I decided a swift postprandial stroll was required to burn off the burger and all-day breakfast sandwich we’d just scoffed. So, we made our way out to the furthest part of the course to see if we could pick up some action. It’s stunning down around the turn and we weren’t gutted when we discovered there was nobody in sight between the 9th and 11th. We just soaked up the surroundings for a little while before heading back towards base camp.
However, as we were sauntering down the side of the 16th, Greg Norman, looking as tanned and handsome as ever, hove into view over a crest on the fairway. We decided to follow the Great White Shark with a mission to try and gauge whether he was showing any of the form that saw him perform so remarkably at Royal Birkdale last year.
In short, the answer is no. Admittedly we only saw him hit a total of about eight full shots but he didn’t quite seem to have the ball-control he displayed on the Lancashire Links in 2008. We witnessed him hit a couple of loose iron shots that were pulled left and a drive that was blocked quite badly into the rough on the right of the 17th. The fact Greg also spent quite a considerable amount of time practising hacking out of the thick rough to the side of the 16th green indicates he’s not overly confident with his approach play at the moment.
Speaking of hacking out of the rough; I saw Miguel Angel Jimenez earlier today only shifting his ball about 10 yards in the rough to the side of the 17th. In a press conference, Rory McIlroy singled out that particular portion of rough as an area where you’re likely to get very severe lies or even lose a ball and Miguel’s little predicament served to confirm this.
No, it’d be great to see Norman contend again at a venue where he lifted his first Claret Jug back in 1986, but I fear his objective will be to make it to the weekend rather than the final group on Sunday as he did last year.
On another note, I’ve now lost my grip completely with regards internet betting on this year’s Open. Things reached a nadir an hour ago when I made three selections by closing my eyes and pointing at the list of odds on my laptop screen while Neil scrolled up and down until I told him to stop. The result is that I now have £1 each way on David Toms, Chris Wood and Matteo Manassero.