Golf / 123rd Open: Turner leads march of the mystery men: Lomas and Magee follow New Zealander in spirited charge up the leaderboard as Faldo falters after a case of mistaken identity

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE 1-2-3 in the 123rd Open Championship features a New Zealander, not the one we expected, an Englishman, certainly not the one we expected, and an American, most certainly not the one we expected. Greg Turner shot 65, Jonathan Lomas 66 and Andrew Magee 67 as the leaderboard was punctuated by a series of question marks.

Apart from the obvious ones of who are these guys and where do they come from, and why are they leading one of the greatest tests in golf, there were other searching questions hovering over, among others, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam. Faldo scored 75, five over par, and is 10 strokes off the lead. At the penultimate hole Faldo, who has won the Open on three occasions, took a triple- bogey eight. He did not just hit the wrong shot, he hit the wrong ball and incurred a two- stroke penalty.

This, of course, was even worse than doubly unfortunate, but nevertheless indicative of a swing that has lost its way. Faldo was playing with Ernie Els and Jim McGovern and, after he had hit his drive way right of the fairway at the 17th, he then hit McGovern's ball.

'They were 20 yards apart,' Faldo said, 'but there was no one on the hill to show where my ball was. They started looking for his and it was then I realised I had played the wrong ball. All I could say was that the ball I hit was white. I could not see if it was my ball. What threw me was the fact that there was no one near it. It's not very clever.' Coming on top of a three-putt at the eighth this was just about the penultimate straw for Faldo. 'I must play good now,' he said.

If Lomas does not exactly have the pedigree for taking centre stage - winning the Audi Quattro Trophy on the Challenge Tour last year has been a career highlight - his caddie, Paul Stevens, is accustomed to the limelight. Stevens has a voice that could have won him the Suzi Quattro Trophy.

Stevens was once the lead singer in a band called The Emperors of Rhythm and although he was a warm-up act for the Beatles in Liverpool's Cavern, his finest moment came in 1961, seven years before Lomas was born. Stevens won a talent contest at the Butlins holiday camp in Pwllheli. With Ringo Starr on drums, he sang 'Johnny B Goode,' a refrain that could have struck overtones with young Johnnie yesterday.

Stevens teamed up with Lomas a month ago after parting company with Mark McNulty. 'I'm from Rochdale, the home of Gracie Fields, Lisa Stansfield and me,' Stevens said.

Lomas - out in 33, back in 33 - had 28 putts, four birdies, no bogeys. He would have had a 65 but for a putt that lipped out from 45 feet at the sixth. On the other hand a putt from 24 feet went down at the 10th and at the 14th he hit a three-iron approach to six inches. Twelve months ago Lomas failed to qualify for the Open at Royal St George's after scoring 67 then 76.

Lomas lives near Hawksworth Park in Shropshire, Sandy Lyle's old stamping ground, and his girlfriend, Amanda Jackson, works in the pro's shop there. Miss Jackson, who has a handicap of five, arrived at Turnberry last night. 'Worrying about expenses was my biggest problem,' Lomas, sounding like a golf writer, said. 'Sponsors were very difficult to find.'

Last year on the Challenge Tour he drove all over Europe and on the longer journeys he slept in his car. 'Being short of money made me get my head down. I took the game far more seriously.' Lomas worked for a couple of years in the pro's shop at Hill Valley, following in the footsteps of Ian Woosnam. 'Woosie used to practise there and it's nice to see how he has progressed,' Lomas said. Woosnam, who has moved from Shropshire to the tax-free haven of Jersey, shot 79 yesterday and seems destined to return to the island this evening. By contrast Lomas is on course to fulfill his modest ambition of playing all four rounds. 'I would rather not look at the big names below me,' Lomas said. 'I'm still in awe of them.'

This may be one of golf's greatest championships but what Turner and Lomas share is an interest in cricket. Turner is the brother of the former New Zealand captain, Glenn, and Lomas's grandfather was George Pope, the former Derbyshire and England all-rounder. Turner ran into form in the Irish Open two weeks ago and yesterday he made his move at the sixth with a birdie and the seventh with an eagle three. Dunedin, where Turner comes from, is renowned for albatrosses and Turner's speciality seems to be eagles. He had another at the 16th and a birdie at 17. What happened at the 16th was staggering. Faced with an approach shot of 187 yards he hit a two-iron straight into the hole. 'The Open,' Turner said, 'is littered with players at the top of the leaderboard who then disappear.' He did not count himself among them.

Magee, who was tied fifth in the Open at Muirfield two years ago, is a refreshingly different American. For a start he is cosmopolitan, having flirted briefly with the European Tour in 1984 but then his father, a geologist with Mobil Oil, was a member at Hendon in north London. In the US Tour guide his hobby is listed as whistling. 'I can whistle anything from classical to Country and Western,' he said. 'I whistle to relax. You expect wind here and the practice rounds were a waste of time. I'm hoping for lousy weather. I have the knack of playing in the wind.' He got what he wanted yesterday. Magee was whistling in the wind and he was not the only American.

Tom Watson, the winner here in 1977, was at two under par and thousands of betting slips were being placed underneath Scottish mattresses.

Bunkers and banter, Quotes,

(Photograph omitted)