Golf / 123rd Open Championship: Some turn up only to be turned out at Turnberry: Room only for chosen few in pounds 4.5m clubhouse. Tim Glover reports

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The Independent Online
THE venue for the 123rd Open Championship boasts a splendid new pounds 4.5m clubhouse but there is one problem - for this week it is simply not big enough. The Royal and Ancient, in a classic compromise guaranteed to upset somebody, decided on a policy of discrimination.

Only winners of major championships are allowed access to the trophy room, which has a bar and lounge. Colin Montgomerie may have been the most successful player in Europe last season, but he has not won one of the big four: the Open, US Open, Masters and US PGA Championship. Thus, when Monty and his family entered the clubhouse yesterday they were informed, in the best possible taste of course, that they were persona non grata.

The same thing happened to Sam Torrance when he attempted to get a cup of tea. Greg Norman, on the other hand, had the necessary credentials, a special ticket issued by the R & A. Norman, who has won the Open twice, was present when Torrance was asked to leave. 'I've had my cup of tea,' he gloated.

Norman encounters similar lines of demarcation when he plays in the Masters at Augusta National. The clubhouse has a champions' room and as Norman, the world No 1, has never won the Masters, he is excluded from the holy of holies.

Michael Bonallack, secretary of the R & A, explained that the trophy room was out of bounds to all but major winners and overseas dignitaries because the area was not big enough. He pointed out that the other players had their own marquee, complete with creche. 'If they had read their letters they would have been fully aware of the situation,' Bonallack said. Members of the R & A committee are not excluded from the trophy room, but nor are they encouraged to use it. 'It's all a bit petty,' Barry Lane said, 'but I'm not particularly bothered about it either way.'

Turnberry has only hosted two Opens. When Tom Watson won here in 1977, after an epic duel with Jack Nicklaus, his aggregate was 268, 12 under par. When Norman won in a gale in 1986 his aggregate was 280. What seems certain this week is the champion will be considerably under par.

The fairways are wider than in 1986 and the rough, which has had limited growth because of the weather, is shorter. 'We could put the flags in the middle of the bunkers and the players would still tear the course apart,' Neil Roach, chairman of the championship committee, said. 'The course is in magnificent condition and we will not do anything silly to it to deter low scoring.' George Wilson, deputy secretary of the R & A, also anticipated a rash of scores in the low 60s. 'The modern players are like surgeons with scalpels,' Wilson said.

The last time Seve Ballesteros played Turnberry - in the final round of the Open eight years ago - he shot 64. Ballesteros, who played a practice round with Jose- Maria Olazabal yesterday, said: 'The course is set up perfectly and is in fantastic condition. It is the best I've seen in quite a long time. The greens are as good as they can be and the rough is very fair. It is nice that the R & A listen to us. If somebody wins at 10 under par why not? There is nothing wrong in that.'

Ballesteros, whose wife, Carmen, is expecting a baby 'any time now,' has won the Open on three occasions. Asked if this would be his week for a fourth, he replied: 'Why not? That is why I'm here. Maybe I'll find something. Golf is unique. Sometimes it takes just one shot to restore your confidence.'

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