Open Diary: Water taxi for Tiger as 10th hole loses its teeth

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was obvious from the first shot yesterday that the shifting wind had made Turnberry a different proposition all over again. The 10th, the hole that ripped off Tiger's tail on Friday when it grabbed his ball in the long grass below the war memorial, was unrecognisable.

Saturday's players had to be careful not to run into the bunkers in the fairway, 290 yards away; yesterday they flew them with ease. The result was a blizzard of birdies. Imada, Clarke, O'Hair, McIlroy, Allenby, Villegas ... and it was only beginning. Par was almost a dropped shot.

On the whole the gallery prefers to gossip about disasters though, so it didn't take long, when a Royal Navy submarine surfaced off the coast (a neat re-enactment of John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps), for a murmur to run through the crowd. "Oh look," it said, "here comes Tiger's taxi."

Members of long-drive club get into the groove

Golf's senior executives are locked in a long wrangle about the grooves on wedges. The answer may lie in the trophy cabinets inside Turnberry's clubhouse, where you can look at a reflection of yourself in the smooth face of a "plain-faced cleek" from 1895. Unfortunately, the pro shop no longer stocks a "plain-faced anti-shank lofting mashie" but in an Open which is all about "experience", there must be wisdom in these old clubs.

The greater drama however, continues to be the immense distances achieved by the modern golfer. On Friday evening, with the wind helping and the course running hot, several late finishers sized up the 410-yard 13th, decided not to play safe up the left, and bombed the green with their driver. Branden Grace launched the ball on to the green for a two-putt birdie, which helped him ease up the leaderboard. Several others made it too.

The 18th hole at Turnberry is only 461 yards long. Garcia got there with a drive and a wedge. How long before they carry the grandstand on the left and still stop it by the pin?

Bunker mentality seals Gaunt's fall from grace

On Friday, Daniel Gaunt's low round of 67 made him the best player in the world that day; yesterday he was obliged to head out first, with a marker for company. The task fell to Turnberry's new director of golf. He has only been here a month, so the course was not as familiar as it might have been. And it was a tricky task, calling for tact as well as golfing skill. In tribute to the time-honoured importance of local knowledge, he managed to play only four shots from bunkers in the first three holes.

Manassero's putts leave Papa short of breath

For a moment or two it was possible the Open might be won by either the oldest or the youngest player. But when Matteo Manassero trickled in a birdie at the par-three 15th, he had no way of knowing that Ross Fisher was floundering in the dunes, and that a birdie would put him only a shot off the lead. His father, however, jumping behind the ropes, could hardly contain himself. The Manassero family were not troubling to hide their boisterous amazement at the derring-do of their son, who was grinning and waving and making putts like a young Seve, with the Silver Medal already in the bag. Could Dad breathe? There was a rapid translation. "Si," he said. "Of course."

Green plastic scourge of the 18th hole

One of the frustrations here has been the swathe of empty seats behind the 18th green facing the fairway; the stands here, reserved for "composite" ticket-holders (a four-day ticket) have been deserted all week. The famous walk into that superb horseshoe of stands has been blighted by an acre of empty green plastic.

The corporate chalets by the 18th tee are also silent. When Martin Kaymer, winner of the last two tournaments on the tour, strode past, just one person was leaning on the 100-metre long outdoor balcony. The crowd swelled when Lee Westwood marched up on Saturday, but then, he was a British player leading the (British) Open. There must have been at least eight people cheering him on his way.

Comments