HOYLAKE, England — Derek Clements is on the ground at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake covering all of the action at the 2014 Open Championship live for Back9Network:
It’s a Pricey Place
Fancy a shopping expedition at Hoylake? You may not be surprised to learn that it is not cheap out there. A ball marker: £5 ($8.50); a pitchmark repairer: £15 ($25.50). A beer, served in a plastic cup, is £4.80 ($8.20). Fancy fish and chips, that most traditional of British fare? It will set you back £9.50 ($16.20). And a piece of pizza is £9 ($15.35). If you are coming to Hoylake with a family there is a simple enough solution: Bring your own food.
Superhero Happy Hour
Where’s Batman? A pair of Robins on day 2 of the 2014 British Open Golf Championship pic.twitter.com/eXk8kriZow
— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) July 18, 2014
The temperature is in the mid-80s and the humidity is horrendous. Please explain, then, why you would turn up at The Open dressed as Batman, Robin, Superman or Donald Duck? They were all spotted in the beer tent, or, as they prefer to call it here, The Perfect Round.
Can’t Beat that Flat-Screen Experience
Does it strike you as odd that people would spend a fortune on tickets to get in and then spend the day sitting in front of a giant TV screen showing pictures from the BBC? It’s the busiest part of the course.
The HSBC Zone has also drawn huge crowds, with families pouring in to play virtual golf. OK, so they use actual golf clubs, but the course isn’t real and, just yards away, the world’s best golfers are showing how it should actually be done. It’s all very, very strange.
Many of you out there might well be wondering who George Coetzee is. Many of you might also be writing him off as yet another no-hoper enjoying his moment in the sun at a major. That would be a mistake. Coetzee celebrated his 28th birthday on the course today. This is his sixth major, and he has missed the cut in three of them. The wind won’t bother him — he is 5-foot-10 and weighs 210 lbs. He has a bunch of top-10 finishes to his name, hits the ball a country mile and in February won his first European Tour event, the Joburg Open. Gary Player, who is a pretty shrewd judge, believes Gorgeous George is a contender. That seems good enough for us
Dufner Being Dufner
People from this part of the world are friendly, gregarious and outgoing, and do everything they can to make visitors feel welcome. It is fair to say, however, that Jason Dufner has not endeared himself to the fans with his refusal to acknowledge applause and his demeanor as he trudges around the course. Everybody who knows him says that Dufner is a joy to be around off the course. He should try to do the same when he is playing golf.
Less Than Perfect Attendance
As predicted, the attendance figures are down since 2006, when The Open was last played at Hoylake. After the first round eight years ago, 90,181 spectators had passed through the gates. This time, the figure was 78,187, but the R&A still hopes the figure for the week will hit 200,000.
Blind Leading the Blind
I have a friend who lives near Hoylake. I am talking close. He works at home and his office looks out over the links. What a view. What a way to start every working day. So I phoned him to tell him that I would be coming up to Royal Liverpool. “You’re coming up here? Why?” he asked. “Because it’s The Open,” I replied.
“Eh?” “They are holding The Open at Hoylake, Griff.” “You mean the golf? I wondered why they were putting up all those marquees.” Doh! Griff, I should point out, is not a golfer.
Turn Down The Volume
With John Daly comes two things: the certainty that a seven, eight or worse is somewhere just around the corner; and those trousers. Oh, those trousers. Daly still attracts a lot of attention at The Open, but not as much as his Loudmouth pants. And it’s not just JD who wears them — he has a group of followers who also don them. It certainly brightens the place up, but heaven alone knows what the stuffed shirts at the R&A think of it all. I mean, you can’t really see any of them wearing Loudmouth pants to the prize-giving, can you?
Els Shaken From First Shot
Ernie Els took 79 shots to play the first round after hitting a spectator with his opening tee shot, missing a back-handed putt and starting off with a triple-bogey seven. He took 43 strokes to play the first nine. He claimed that hitting the fan full in the face with his opening drive played on his mind for the rest of his round.
“It hit him right in the face,” Els said. “It was like a bullet coming right at him. He must have been in total shock. He didn’t look very good. I’ve hit spectators before, but never right in the face.”
Lee Westwood on Worksop Town FC
Lee Westwood is a passionate fan of Nottingham Forest, but he has come to the rescue of another soccer club. Worksop’s most famous son (with all due respect to Mark Foster) has agreed to a sponsorship deal with Worksop Town FC, which will see the logo of his golf school appear on the Tigers’ home and away shirts for the coming season.
The club’s 153-year history has been under threat since owner Jason Clark announced he’s had enough.
“Worksop will always be my home, people will always associate me with my home town and I’m proud of my roots,” said Westwood, who is now based in Florida. “I was sorry to hear that the town’s football club were in such a perilous situation.
“Worksop Town are the world’s fourth oldest club and their history and position in the heart of the community should be safeguarded. When the Worksop Guardian [the local newspaper] approached me with idea of sponsoring the shirts for the coming season, I saw it as an ideal way of showing my support for the club.”
The R&A have every reason to be slightly miffed with Steve Stricker and Charles Howell III. Both men qualified to play at Hoylake, but both withdrew without giving proper reasons for doing so. This is the second year on the trot that 47-year-old Stricker, who has drastically reduced his playing schedule, has pulled out. He gave official notification last week. It seems a pretty shabby way to treat the world’s oldest major
If there is one thing more infuriating than slow play, it is the habit that an increasing number of players have developed of consulting their notes ON THE GREEN.
Come on guys, what’s up with you? You are meant to be the best players in the world. That being the case, you can surely read greens without having to thumb through pages of a notebook.
The chances are that if it looks like a right-to-left break then it is a right-to-left break. You need to start the ball on the right side of the hole!
There are no optical illusions at Hoylake – uphill putts need to be hit harder than downhill putts.
Whatever next? Buckets and spades to find out whether they can build sandcastles in the bunkers? Windsocks attached to their golf bags so they know at a glance what way the wind is blowing?
We’re Off and Running…
Big day today for the likes of Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, who need birdies aplenty to get their challenge going at Hoylake. We have had heavy overnight rain and threat of thunderstorms today and tomorrow. Could be looking at a Monday finish.
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