James Corrigan's Open Diary: Killarney braces itself for a ring of steel around Rory
Monday 18 July 2011
Next Stop for Rory McIlroy is the Irish Open in Killarney in 10 days' time, but if the 22-year-old is hoping for less hype than he encountered in Sandwich then he will be severely disappointed. The European Tour is planning extra security in Co Kerry to cope with the expected crowds.
George O'Grady, the Tour's chief executive, compared McIlroy not only to Tiger Woods but also to Elvis. "It is like the Tiger effect," said O'Grady. "If the passageways are too tight, everybody wants to shake your hand. And Rory would shake everybody's hand, but you have to widen the spaces now so that people can't get that close.
"When you think of Rory and the hassle he gets, he is probably going to get even more in Ireland because everyone is his pal. So we will have to adjust the crowd control and make it a bit more like the Ryder Cup, where we will have big, wide walkways from tees to greens and in other places."
O'Grady is confident McIlroy has the wherewithal to deal with the frenzy. "Padraig had the same thing when he came back to Ireland as a major champion," said O'Grady. "But this kid now is a megastar. He's a megastar in the way he conducts himself and I don't know how he handles it. This is Elvis Presley sort of stuff."
Atlanta forecast makes McIlroy an 8-1 favourite
Rory McIlroy is 8-1 favourite for the USPGA and, despite his disappointing showing at Sandwich, many experts believe these to be juicy odds. After all, the kid said it himself after signing off for a seven-over total yesterday.
"My game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions I just don't enjoy playing in, really," commented McIlroy. "That's the bottom line. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind." He will get his wish in Atlanta, but the critics may descend on him after that admission.
Veteran Watson draws courage under fire
Tom Watson finished another memorable Open with a 72 and then talked about a moving visit to battlefields in France before he travelled to Sandwich. It included Pointe du Hoc, where Allied forces came under attack from Germans on the clifftop above.
"It was like me playing Phil Mickelson on this golf course," he said. "Talk about a disadvantage. And to see the 9,000-plus marble crosses [at Omaha Beach] is a striking reminder of what the human condition can do. I was very emotional seeing that. It certainly has that effect on you."
Watson, who holed-in-one during his second round and held the early clubhouse lead in the third, was playing his 34th Open thanks to his second place at Turnberry in 2009.
That prompted a change in the championship rules to allow former winners to continue beyond their 60th birthday if they manage a top 10 finish, and he plans to be at Lytham next July – "if everything is OK with me".
Cut to the golf: BBC cameras lose track of action
Anybody left infuriated by the standard of the BBC coverage atthe Open need look no further than the TV listings for the explanation. Six years ago the BBC showed 30 days of live golf. This year it will show 14. Put simply, the cameramen are getting less than half the practice. And therefore are probably twice as bad.
Exclusive hotline to Lytham 2012
This Open had been due to be held at Lytham with Sandwich next year. But because of the London Olympics the Royal and Ancient agreed to switch the venues. So to the North-west the Championship next heads, and here we give you an early heads-up on the likely storylines.
"Whatever happened to David Duval? The American was last seen partying in Blackpool in 2001."
"Whatever happened to Ian Woosnam's caddie? The Irishman was last seen taking counting lessons after the 15th club controversy."
"Seve Ballesteros, the King of Lytham. Yet another chance to write lengthy pieces about the Spaniard who won two Opens at the course."
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