Thought for the Day:
If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
A fitting tribute
Tragedy can destroy or inspire and in the case of Melissa Reid, the devastating loss of her mother seems to have been an inspiration. Just four weeks after Joy and Brian Reid were involved in a serious car crash in Germany as a result of which, Joy died, daughter Melissa, at the age of 24, won the Prague Masters. Her parents followed her career avidly (which is why they were in Germany) and were well-known, respected and more than liked in the nomadic family that is the Ladies European Tour. Melissa puts her victory down to the sense of perspective she has gained – effectively saying that trying to carry a one-stroke lead through the final round of a golf tournament doesn’t amount to a hill of beans after facing such a loss. She is right, of course, but I’m sure that if her mother could speak she would say she is now even more proud of the daughter whose career she followed with such enthusiasm.
Will Ye no Come Back?
The Open Championship has famously only once been played outside Britain, and that was in 1951 when it visited Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. But such has been the buzz surrounding the Irish Open held there earlier this month, it has created real speculation that the claret jug might return. The European Tour event, (won by Jamie Donaldson) broke all sorts of attendance records and it is clear that there’s a real hunger for top-quality golf in this corner of the UK. The Irish Open was sold out two weeks before the first shot was struck, in itself a rarity, and the total attendance figure for the week of 112,000, broke the 100,000 barrier for the first time ever at a European event. Adding further fuel to the fires of speculation is the knowledge that two officials from the R&A were on hand during the week, presumably to assess the venue’s suitability to stage a major championship. There is no doubt that the magnificent course is up to the task – and if you haven’t been fortunate enough to play it yet, then add it to your bucket list of things to do before you die. It really is as good, if not better, as everyone says, marred only in my view by the 18th, which is simply a way of getting back to the clubhouse. But although there isn’t a course anywhere in the world that is perfect, Portrush comes as close as is possible. As with other prospective Open venues, such as Royal Dornoch, the biggest question is not the quality of the links but the ability of the surrounding area to meet all the infrastructure, transport and accommodation needs of an Open championship.
For all our sakes, let us hope that the R&A blazers think that these requirements can be met.
Striding the fairways
During that Irish Open the European Tour took the unusual step of allowing Rory McIlroy’s girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, inside the gallery ropes to follow her beau, at times strolling alongside and chatting with him as he walked between shots. Perhaps it was a gesture of consideration following her first round exit from Wimbledon but please let it not be a precedent. We already have the obligatory girlfriend/spouse gallop across the final green to hug the winner, followed more often than not by one or more bemused children. If this is now extended to allow friends, family, lovers or offspring to walk inside the ropes, how long before the significant other gets fitted with a microphone and we’re obliged to follow their thoughts as they follow their man?
When golfers try out different clubs on the range before they play, it is easy to see how, if golfer and caddy are not vigilant, an extra club may be left in the bag by mistake. It most famously happened to Ian Woosnam the last time the Open was played at this year’s venue, Royal Lytham and St Anne’s, and Ian copped a two-stroke penalty as a result (Rule 4-4a). So when the same thing occurred at this year’s BMW International Open in Germany, this time involving Jose Manuel Lara, his caddy adopted his own, inventive strategy to prevent his man suffering a similar, or worse fate. Noticing the extra club on the second hole, Mathias Vinson went walkabout in the bushes. Lara’s fellow competitors Damien McGrane and Peter Hedblom, asked what he was up to and he mumbled a not too coherent reply to the effect that he had done something bad – the bad thing being that he’d dumped the 15th club into the undergrowth. The caddy has been advised, in the words of chief referee John Paramor ‘Not to come back’ and Lara, who was completely unknowing and blameless was nevertheless disqualified, because he is considered responsible for the actions of his bagman.
Rules have to be obeyed and both punishments are harsh but appropriate. And although we should all unite in condemning the nefarious activities of the errant caddy, it’s difficult not to smile.
In case you were wondering, the man who interrupted last month’s US Open prize-giving ceremony with a few bird noises, is a scouser called Andrew Dudley, also known as ‘Jungle Bird’. After San Francisco police and the USGA decided to take no action against him, he revealed that his stunt was to highlight the issue of deforestation.
I hate to disappoint him but as a consequence of his protest, not one tree has been saved – but a few more will have been destroyed in order to report on his protest.
Quote of the Week
Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing