Golf: Woosnam in search of new look and luck: Bell's Scottish Open

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The Independent Online
IT SEEMS strange to employ Ian Woosnam to model a new range of clothing under the label of Hippo but, as far as the little Welshman is concerned, it is not simply a question of how you play but how you look. Hippo thinks he looks like a million dollars and is prepared to pay him as much, if not more, to wear its shirts.

Woosnam, who is playing in the Bell's Scottish Open, which begins over the King's Course today, has left the Italian company, Sergio Tacchini, to sign a five-year contract with Hippo in a performance- related deal. 'The better I do, the more I earn,' Woosnam said. 'It could be millions.' Considering his infrequent appearances on the Tour so far, this seems unlikely.

The logo reflects Woosnam punching the air to celebrate his victory in the Masters at Augusta National in 1991. It is his only major triumph, and Woosnam is pessimistic about his chances in the Open at Turnberry next week. 'I haven't got any power in my shots,' he said. 'I've lost a lot of length. My swing is too short and quick. I'm playing really poorly and I'm going through a lean spell. It can be depressing.'

Still, the new shirts should help. 'It has long been my ambition to help design clothing that gives you the freedom of movement and comfort necessary to enable you to perform at your best. I perspire quite a lot. You can get depressed wearing the same colours.' Woosnam revealed one of the causes of his poor form this year: 'I only had four colours to choose from.' But then, as he has only played in five tournaments in Europe out of 22, he should have been able to shuffle his wardrobe quite effectively.

Perhaps Hippo should also have clothed the more ample frame of Colin Montgomerie, for he was in urgent need of the 'comfort necessary to enable you to perform at your best' when he featured in the 18-hole play-off for the US Open at sweltering Oakmont. He had changed so many shirts in the course of the week that when the championship went to an extra week he had nothing left in his wardrobe except a Black Watch tartan shirt. 'I had Plan A, which was to win, or Plan B, which was to go home,' Montgomerie said. 'I didn't have a Plan C'

Montgomerie does not have a negative thought about his experiences in Pittsburgh. 'Nobody beat me over four rounds at one of the hardest courses,' he said. 'My mental state was very strong and that was the key. I proved myself. There was no failure for me at all. OK, I shot 78 in the play-off but I'm happy with what I achieved. I'll learn from it. The US Open was big for me on and off the course.'

In contrast to Woosnam, Montgomerie is looking forward to his fortnight in Scotland. 'Whatever happens here, I will approach the Open in a very positive frame of mind.' From the moment Montgomerie wore a sweater emblazoned with the Saltire - the white cross of St Andrews on a blue background - at Gleneagles two years ago, he has been flying the flag for Scotland. 'There has been a lot of expectation,' Montgomerie said, 'but no more than I put on myself. I'm simply very ambitious.'

No Scotsman has won the Scottish Open, and this week will probably be their last chance under the patronage of Bell's. Uninspired by the move here to switch television coverage of the tournament from the BBC to Sky, Bell's are putting the whisky brand four square behind Scottish football. If there is a new sponsor next year, that could also mean a new venue.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 362 4 10th 447 4 2nd 436 4 11th 230 3 3rd 374 4 12th 442 4 4th 466 4 13th 464 4 5th 178 3 14th 310 4 6th 480 5 15th 459 4 7th 444 4 16th 158 3 8th 178 3 17th 377 4 9th 409 4 18th 525 5 Out: 3,327 35 In: 3,412 34 Total: 6,739 70 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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