Neil and I have just enjoyed a very pleasant hour walking the final four holes with Henrik Stenson and Richard S Johnson. As members of the press, we were in the luxurious position of being able to view the pair from inside the ropes. Normally we’re confined to staying no more than an arm’s length from the rope itself, but on practice days the marshals are more lenient and we were able to stroll nonchalantly down the middle of the fairways.
It’s an awesome feeling and one that gives just the smallest taster of what it must be like to play in this great event. You can feel eyes on you from all sides and it’s an impressive sight to look down at Turnberry’s marvellous greens when framed by galleries and stands.
Coming down the 18th, as I approached the main grandstands surrounding the green, I tried to imagine what it must be like when those seats are all filled and there are thousands of people willing you on to fire your final approach in close. It must be absolutely incredible – they’re a lucky bunch.
Anyway, we had really joined the pair to watch Henrik, but I was struck by how solidly Richard S Johnson was hitting it. After he’d completed the last four in a very steady one-under-par, Neil and I had decided a little bet might be appropriate. But, then again, everyone playing this week hits it solidly. You could walk out at random on practice day, watch any one of the 156 players in the field and convince yourself they’re going to take the title.
Yesterday I walked for a while with John Daly who was playing with an Englishman called Dan Wardrop – he appeared to have a very tidy looking game, he hit a couple of belting drives and some very precise pitches. After 20 minutes I’d also decided to have a little flutter on him. When I got back in and checked the odds I was astounded to see he was 1500-1. When he lifts the Claret Jug on Sunday my £1 each way is going to look very clever indeed.
And what about Stenson? A favourite of many and someone I was considering placing a few quid on. Well, his driver still seems to be giving him issues – one block into the cabbage followed by a snap-hook into the clag on the other side on the 16th was evidence of that. But, he can hit his 3-wood so long and straight that he really shouldn’t need to use the big stick. He’ll be there or thereabouts at the business end of things and must be worth a punt. My God, at this rate I’ll have bet on the whole field by tomorrow morning. I think I better stay in the Media Centre for the rest of the day.