Silent assassins Singh and Goosen carve up the field

Loud Trousers, quiet golfers. Is this how Royal Troon 2004 will be remembered? If Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh have much to do with the business end of these proceedings - and they usually do - then most probably. Because the two big noises who always let their clubs do the talking have taken up their customary positions in the field - near the front of it.

Loud Trousers, quiet golfers. Is this how Royal Troon 2004 will be remembered? If Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh have much to do with the business end of these proceedings - and they usually do - then most probably. Because the two big noises who always let their clubs do the talking have taken up their customary positions in the field - near the front of it.

From here they will lurk with major intent, refusing to buckle, refusing to bend, regardless of pressure, regardless of weather. The golfer who won the US Open in June and the golfer who has been winning seemingly everything else are on The Open premises. And if it is thrills you are after then you had better look elsewhere. But one must suspect that spills will be even more at a premium.

They certainly were yesterday when the wind started to whistle and the pros started to wail. Singh and Goosen stood steadfast, finding fairways that must have looked like they were shrinking before their very eyes as the crosswind did its worst. It was a day for cool heads and they do not come any cooler than the quiet men of golf.

Boring, is how some describe the world Nos 3 and 6, but if boredom be the food of golfing success then play on. No mealy-mouthed promises, no searching of the soul from these two after rounds that sent their names marching up the leaderboard, just their usual batch of self-assured honesty and respect for a links that has probably only just started its tortures.

Goosen, for instance, found consistency while most were only finding resistance. One birdie, 17 pars for the South African who somehow managed to avoid making bogey on a day when bogey was king. A one-under-par 70 was reward indeed for pinning his faith in the links mantra - good shots can be poor, poor shots can be good. "Patience," Goosen calls it. "I don't think it's anything like yesterday morning. It was very cold this morning and the wind is playing stronger and coming more across the golf course, which made it really difficult."

Not so difficult, however, that Goosen, who won the European Open the week after collecting his second US Open at Shinnecock Hills, was able to pick up a birdie three at the 7th, with a nine iron to 10 feet, and then battled his way in to consolidate his first-round 69 and head into the weekend at three under.

"When it's tougher, the better players will come to the top," he said. "I'm happy with my round today. I didn't play that well on the back nine but made a few good up and downs, especially at 17 and 18, which sort of kept my round together."

Another source of satisfaction to Goosen was the focus he was able to maintain despite suffering from the inevitable hangover a major victory brings. "It's never easy to keep going following a big one," he said. "But I had a week off last week to recover. Now I'm in a position to play well on the weekend and I think I won't be far off the lead come the end of the tournament." Singh was similarly upbeat, despite "leaving a couple of chances out there" as he moved to four under with a round of 70 that was adorned with three birdies and blemished with two bogeys.

Indeed, for a man who is a complete stranger to hyperbole, Singh was overstatement itself. "Today I struck the ball beautifully coming in whilst those left to right winds can really get you into trouble," he said. "But I am really well and I am really excited." There was even the merest hint of a smile on this most serious of countenances. "Whenever you play well you are going to enjoy it, but I was pretty relaxed out there," added the 41-year-old Fijian. "It's hard enough in conditions out there and you tend to tighten up so I was trying to relax, breathe a little better and score a little better."

Mission accomplished, which puts Singh bang in the picture to exorcise the Open demons of Sandwich last year, where he finished one shot off Ben Curtis in a tie for second. "I don't know if I'm owed an Open but I know I have to go out there and grab it,' he said. "I was given chances before in The Open and didn't take them and I am in a great position again this week."

If Troon does happen to represent Singh's salvation then he would overtake Goosen's haul of two majors. But that would be of little significance to a South African who long ago resigned himself to the up-and-down nature of this strange game. "When you play well you love golf, when you play badly you hate it. It's a tough game we know, tough to keep playing well all the time." How is it that Singh and Goosen make it look so consistently easy then?

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine