Golf: First Tee - Bad news for Jack of all tirades

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The Independent Online
WHEN JACK NEWTON interviews a player for his Australian television station Channel 10 he does so not within the confines of Carnoustie golf club but on the street.

"We are not allowed into the designated interview area because we are deemed a non-rights broadcaster," Newton explained. Having paid their dues to Trans World International, Channel 9, Channel 10's bitter rivals in Australia, enjoy the luxury of interviewing players as they come off the 18th green.

"I've had a guts-full," Newton said. "I'd like to shove a one-iron up their... " At that point Newton was asked to move on.

"They've never forgiven me for having an exclusive interview with Greg in the car park at Augusta a few years ago." Greg Norman goes back a long way with Newton and the Great White Shark is only too happy to negotiate the metal crowd barriers near the 18th hole here and walk 70 yards to give a road-side interview with Channel 10.

"What's ludicrous about it is that we're only doing an 80-second slot for the news," Newton added. What is even more incongruous is the sight of the man who was runner-up to Tom Watson, when the Open was last held at Carnoustie in 1975, being treated as an outsider. Had Newton won that play-off with Watson 24 years ago, would he have still been declared persona non grata?

Monty misses the link

PRICEY, AFTER exchanging banter on the first tee at the start of a practice round with Els, Faldo and McNulty, bent down to place his ball on the tee peg when calamity struck. His trousers split from Carnoustie to St Andrews.

His caddie bought a new pair from the pro-shop and, while Pricey was changing behind the starter's hut, Colin Montgomerie appeared on the tee and asked Els if he could make up a four-ball. "Sorry Monty," Els said, "but we're waiting for Pricey." "Nick went off hours ago," Montgomerie replied. "Not Nick," Els responded, "Neil."

Thus Neil Price, a 23-year-old from the Wirral, who entered the Open as second reserve following the withdrawal of Sam Torrance, and whose victories include the Lakes Golf Shops North Region PGA assistants championship, jocked off the European No 1 to play with the big boys. In the second round of the Championship Pricey outscored Monty with a 74 to a 76.

Player's opening secret

OFFICIALLY OPENING the new Carnoustie golf course hotel, Gary Player slipped so effortlessly into his North of the Border mode that he sounded like something out of the Scottish Tourist Board. Stopping just short of donning a kilt, the little South African referred to Scottish ingenuity, hospitality, Aberdeen Angus, a thistle and even neeps and tatties.

Accompanied by the first battalion of the Black Watch, Royal Highland regiment, Player, who won the Open here in 1968, said he was absolutely delighted that the tournament had at last returned to the Angus links, and how richly deserved it all was.

He was a little less effusive in his support of the set-up a few years ago. When the Scottish Open was staged at Carnoustie, which was something of a stepping stone to the rehabilitation of the course, the organisers thought it would be a good idea to invite Player to take a stroll down memory lane. He replied that although his normal appearance fee was $100,000, he would make an exception this once and do it for $50,000. He was told thanks but no thanks.

The no-joy ride

MEMBERS OF the Scottish Police golf society (whose motto could be: Don't Drink and Drive) are showing no sympathy to visiting motorists who might find the wee byways almost as difficult to negotiate as the golfers are Carnoustie itself.

Rich Beem, who is no relation to Jim Beam, was enjoying his first visit to Scotland until he was apprehended in his hire car by the boys in blue. The rookie from El Paso also failed a breath test and after admitting a charge of drink driving, was summarily banned for 18 months (not that that will bother him too much back home in Texas) and fined pounds 450.

Prior to May, Beem had hardly won a dime but 30 friends gave him money for travel expenses. Then the 28-year-old struck a rich seam of form , winning the Kemper Open and $450,000 (pounds 292,000), fortified in the last round by an anti-nausea medicine which he bought on the way to the course to prevent him from throwing up. His Open debut has not been entirely nausea free - Beem missed the half-way cut.

Contract bridge

BEN CRENSHAW, one of a whole posse of Americans who made their apologies and withdrew from the Open declaring, with great foresight, that they did not have the game to tame Carnoustie, had paid pounds 3,000 to rent a house.

He offered the vacant accommodation to friends, free of charge. However, when they attempted to fill the shoes of the absent party they were told by the letting agency that this was not possible as Crenshaw was the name written on the original contract. Instead, the house was re-let to another group - for another pounds 3,000.

Flights of fantasy

TIGER WOODS has had no problems finding a bed for the night. Carnoustie is not exactly Las Vegas when it comes to hotels and Woods, Mark O'Meara, David Duval and Payne Stewart have been enjoying the five-star luxury of the Old Course Hotel across the Tay at St Andrews.

The room rate, of course, is not a problem for these fellows, especially when the bill is being picked up by somebody else. Their benefactor is Joe Lewis, the Bahamas-based financier, who also pays for the golfers to be flown across to Carnoustie in a fleet of helicopters.

Joining their party was J P McManus, the legendary gambler who last week entertained the players in his native Ireland. Let's hope he didn't have a bet on O'Meara.

The finishing touch

"HE PLAYED awesome," Simon Dyson said of Luke Donald after the second round. "It was just a shame about the finish." Donald, the 21-year-old English amateur international who led the final qualifying at Panmure, shot 76 in the second round to finish at 14 over par. But for finding the water at the 17th, where he took a double-bogey six, and three-putting at the 18th, Donald would have made the cut.

Dyson, who hopes to join Donald in the Walker Cup team against the US at Nairn in September, caddied for his team-mate after taking a five-hour train journey from York. "The whole thing was just brilliant," Dyson said. He and Donald were showered with golf equipment, including bags, shoes, waterproofs and caps.