As the sun came out and the wind died what better place to head for an hour?s dissertation than the 18th – helped by the fact that it was nice and close by and I was carrying a large and well-deserved lunch. Incidentally lunch (and food in general) is extremely expensive and not very good, bar Fergus? bacon sandwiches of course ? even worse the great and the good of the media have to pay for it. Uh, very different from my US Open experience.
Anyway I digress; the 18th has to be one of the very best finishing holes in world golf and certainly one of the most testing. Like many I think, I have always struggled to understand how Van de Velde did his thing last time? now I have walked the hole I feel very differently. It?s nothing sort of impossible and I will be incredibly surprised if we don?t see more Van de Veldes this year.
I started my reconnaissance mission by walking from the tee, inside the ropes, with the old stager Tony Jacklin. A very pleasant 499 yards it was too, especially when everyone started clapping and cheering as we reached the green ? this website must be popular. Having watched Jacklin bow out with another bogey, I settled myself in the stands and began munching some crisps. I have always wondered what the etiquette for that is on a golf course but without an R&A official to help me out, I settled for trying to be as quiet as possible.
It?s a long vigil to sit and watch from one place and I admired those around me. Although it was all too much for one lady who was fast asleep on her husband?s shoulder. Banked around me were a selection of hardy souls and a very English (sorry Scottish ? they are a bit touchy about that slip I have learnt) type of camaraderie was going on. There seems to be a kind of unspoken etiquette that you never sit next to someone you don?t know but instead leave one seat to act as a little buffer zone, a kind of Switzerland. Saving of seats also has to be respected with UN-esque commitment. You can talk to your neighbours but not too much and it?s not acceptable to offer round your crisps.
The first ?Get in the Hole? reverberated around the green as Boo Weekley walked up, which was surprising given the crowd?s reticence and even more surprising given the fact that it came from the bank of Japanese behind me. I tried to ask why but it turns out that ?Get in the Hole? is just about the sum of their English.
Yong-Eun Yang will not have fond thoughts of the 18th as he chews his supper tonight. The diminutive Korean hit a great drive and then launched a 3-wood that agonisingly ran off the green and went OB. He reloaded and proceeded to do it again. The third was nerve-racking for the crowd? but he put it to within 10ft. Sadly the finish meant he missed the cut.
Alistair Forsyth briefly raised home-cheer with a nice four that meant he sits very proudly at one-under-par. However, the prospect of a group containing Hoffman, Lam (who was chopping it) and Steve Parry did nothing for me and I took my leave. However, I hope the 18th will welcome me back come Sunday ? perhaps someone will even save me a place.