It is the 1st day of competition at the 140th Open, at last – game on.
For those looking for an omen – on our way in this morning we passed a bus numbered N50 going to …. Westwood.
All of the cones, road signs that have been lying around all week are now firmly in place. We even passed a crocodile of people walking from the station. To be fair that was the only place we were held up as they were shepherded across the road near the course by Kent Constabulary.
Another sign of the massive increase in numbers was that instead of parking in row 5 of Green(Sandwich) car park we are in a field some distance away. Looking around we can see hoards of people moving from all sorts of places towards the pay gates.
On the few exhibitor stands in the hospitality area the staff are more animated than they have been buoyed up by the influx of people.
There is a very noticeable increase in the helicopter traffic approaching the course and the BBC aerial view plane is almost constantly circling the course the drone of its engine becoming quite monotonous.
As an aside,an early contender for hat of the week is Ken Ferries ‘ wife – it looks like a squirrel black and brown in colour with knitted ears , 2 big buttons for eyes a smaller one for a nose. It even had a tail.
Ken is quite a character who is clearly feeling a little nervous as he talks constantly on the way to the practise ground – although in fairness it is typical Ken anyway.
I asked Steve Marino how much links golf he plays – he says that he has played in 3 Opens here, St Andrews and Turnberry which his favourite. So he thought for a bit and said ‘Not much I guess’.
The players whilst still polite and chatting are more controlled and focussed; the same applies to our small buggy team. The mood has now moved to that of a work place for the golfers.
Tiger’s coach actually accompanied one of the players and talked about Tiger. He is well and recovering and has moved into a new house in Jupiter, Florida. In the grounds he has replicated the practise facility that they have at Augusta. He is chipping and putting most of his day and used an 8 iron the other day for the 1st time in quite a while. He was disappointed to lip out from 170 yards away. Oh dear.
Next up was Bubba Watson and his caddy Tom Scott; I asked the question of the day ‘When are you teeing off?’ Tom said 1.32 and Bubba said ‘Well I‘m off at 1.43 – who are you with?’ This led to a conversation about being positive and confident. Tom told us about his arrival in Bubba’s car as Bubba was going in with someone else. He told Tom that his challenge was to get into the players’ car park without a pass by being confident. He drove up there and said boldly to the attendant ‘Tom Scott’. He let him straight in and Tom saw the attendant in his rear view mirror poring through the list looking for his name.
Lee Westwood left the range looking straight ahead; he appeared the most calm, determined and focused of all the players to date.
I saw the pro from my home club walking past on the other side of the fence – there as a spectator though.
Our buggy area is adjacent to the club house and over the other side of the area there are lounges and eating areas for the caddies, the players and their families and next to that a crèche for their children.
It was good to see Luke Donald having a kick about with some children after his round. He tried some tricks with the ball and it was easy to see why he took up golf.
I consider my job at The Open to be the best around but I came across a delightful man and wife team called The Sunshine Clowns who run it very close. Their job is to entertain the children in the crèche. He is an ex visual comedian who was a warm up man for many comedians including Bob Monkhouse, Dick Emery and Ken Dodd. She was a teacher who too early retirement from teaching 15 years ago. They absolutely love their jobs and are a very jolly couple – probably older than me.
We’d had a steady predictable steam of players until the players finishing their rounds came back for practise and then it picked up – a little hint if you ever get to do this job always find out the player’s score before talking to him post round. You can really upset someone who has played badly and doesn’t want to talk ANYBODY about it.
Gaffe of the day – I asked David Horsey what time he was going out – ‘I’m second reserve’ said the disconsolate David.