Golf: The Open: Marshals uphold Tiger lore
Paul Trow examines Troon's plans to cope with the wonder boy's fans
Sunday 13 July 1997
The sight of golf's hottest young property leading his cohorts down the 18th fairway last weekend could easily have been a dummy run for next Sunday afternoon. The general at the head of his troops was, of course, Tiger Woods, but the battle ground was far removed from the west coast of Scotland.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club on the outskirts of Chicago is normally an oasis of gentility within the bustling Windy City. The Motorola Western Open has long been one of America's most prestigious titles, and Woods was in the process of securing his fourth US tour victory of the year. But still the hordes flocked after their hero so vigorously that you were prompted to wonder how enthusiastic they would have been had they actually been watching a major.
The fact is that Woods is in danger of being mobbed whenever and wherever he tees up. Not even Arnold Palmer, when he became golf's first superstar in the late Fifties, was greeted with such adulation. Consequently the US tour now has two sets of security programmes - one for events in which Woods plays and another, much lower key, for those he misses.
His group is always accompanied by three times as many marshals as the next most popular match, and even then the "You're the man" and "Get in the hole" merchants are barely constrained. Many of them don't even bother to wait until he has struck the ball before screaming their inanities and, having incurred the young man's displeasure, they then have the cheek to crowd him as he walks by in the hope of extracting an autograph. No wonder Woods' sculptured grin sometimes looks a little forced; the grim expression on the faces of his minders tells the true story.
Royal Troon and Royal & Ancient have all this to look forward to over the coming week. While reluctant to reveal their precise plans for combating the Woods phenomenon, the organisers acknowledge that extra stewards will be assigned to him. "We will assess the situation as it goes on to see whether we need to put more people in," was as far as a spokesman for the championship secretary, David Hill, would commit himself.
However, the likelihood is that the R&A's biggest headache will stem from the decision six months ago to allow under-18 spectators in for free. Youngsters turning up on the day must be accompanied by an adult to obtain admission, but those who have acquired tickets in advance are not subject to the same restrictions.
Traditionally, British crowds are as polite and as well-informed about golf as their transatlantic counterparts are not. But Woods's public is international and, like their hero, larger than life. At least two US tournaments this season have attracted final- day attendances in excess of 100,000 because Woods has been on the premises. It therefore seems a fair bet that, weather permitting, the four-day Open record of 208,680, set at St Andrews seven years ago, will come under threat if Woods is in contention. Hopefully, the 800 marshals hired for the week are up to the challenge.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
Liverpool transfer news: James Milner nearing Anfield switch, but club baulk at £32.5m Christian Benteke release clause
Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
Arsenal fan asks the Queen for tickets to the FA Cup final - gets a reply from Buckingham Palace
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working within the workshop of ...
£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...