Around the Open: Leading pros turn to the spin doctors

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The Independent Online
The Indian-or-the-arrow debate has again reared its controversial head. According to Jack Nicklaus "the old course has stood the test of time" and he doesn't think "equipment is going to make a whole lot of difference". His words are unlikely to be shouted too loudly in the tented village where the new, the wondrous and the miraculous are all on offer - at a price.

Ken Stevely, the PGA pro heading the free teaching clinics in the village, disagrees. "The balls are being hit further. Spin rates can now also be controlled. If conditions are soft the pros will choose one with no spin. If it's hard they'll choose a ball with spin."

In 1971 at Muirfield, Lee Trevino hit the then US big ball downwind and the small British ball into the wind. Today's players can no longer switch balls during a round but ball technology means the weather and the course condition will determine which ball they play. Trevino once said it doesn't matter too much about the arrow. Everything in golf is about the Indian.

When things go wrong, the temptation is always to blame the putter. But corporal punishment? On a golf club? Corey Pavin lets out his frustration after a miss on the 17th green. It was simply perfectionism at work - as the American's round of 69 would suggest.


Leading 70 players plus ties and anyone within 10 shots of the leader.

Youngest swinger in town

n Even if a Scot doesn't actually manage to lift the old claret jug this weekend the local PGA are excited about a Scottish discovery made yesterday.The turn-up-and-be-cured clinics organised by the PGA are booked out within a half-hour of opening at 9am. Some 1,400 free lessons will be given over the week. Organiser Ken Stevely said: "We saw the best swing we've ever seen on a nine-year-old boy this morning. He is a complete natural and has everything. We're not giving away his identity just yet but he's from the west of Scotland."

n Equipment manufacturers at the Open this week agree that 60 per cent of the pros still use bladed clubs, but the figure is way down from five years ago when 90 per cent used blades. Cavity-backed designs were designed for Joe Public to help his game. So too the technology of enlarging the club-head size. But step forward one Greg Norman and his oversized, cavity- backed King Cobra clubs. The stigma it would seem of clubs that are openly supposed to help you win the Open has seemingly gone.

An 8.25 start can hardly be conducive to alertness and concentration. The Argentinian, Eduardo Romero, was virtually out on his feet as he teed off yesterday morning. A round of 74 was little reward. He should just be thankful he didn't set out at 7.10, as some of his less fortunate colleagues had to.

The game of golf, it seems, is finally emerging from the dark ages, and those wild men in check trousers will have to behave themselves from now on. Kendra Graham, of the United States, strides the course yesterday after becoming the first woman official at the Open. No mooning on the fairways, please.