Putts not pints rule Bladon's life

125Th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: Walking fairways with the greats inspires county player to start taking it seriously; Richard Edmondson listens to the Amateur champion who has given up his bar job to concentrate on golf two decks

These days, it seems, they play the amateur championships over a course on Brobdingnag. Twelve months ago the winner who earned an exemption for the Open was Gordon Sherry, the 6ft 8in Scot who made the St Andrews stands tremble as he pounded the fairways.

This afternoon another behemoth will grapple with Royal Lytham when Warren Bladon carries the flag for the unpaid, but there the connection between our two amateur winners will perish.

Sherry, you will remember, was the articulate biochemistry student from Kilmarnock who had a professional career mapped out with great precision. Bladon, on the other hand, looks like a bloke you might find on the door of a pub, which would not be far wrong. Until recently you could have found him pulling pints in his native Midlands.

After capturing the Amateur Championship at Turnberry six weeks ago, Bladon was meant to return to his post as assistant manager of the Cask and Bottle at Leamington Spa. But he could feel his life taking a significant diversion and consequently told his employers where they could put their corkscrew.

All this has taken Bladon quite a while. He is 30 and much of his amateur career as a county player with Warwickshire has been characterised by a sense of talent scorned. Our man is notable for the consistency of his practice sessions. Every time Halley's Comet comes round he can be found on the driving range. Nevertheless, he is a hugely popular figure with his county team-mates, never more so when he suggested one of them should caddie for him both here and at the Masters next spring. The bouquet was caught by Gareth Jenkins.

Life has changed a little for the man who lives at home with his retired mother and now has a job with an engineering company which sounds dangerously close to a sinecure. "I've got time for training now which I've always been dead against," he said. "I've never been a practiser because I didn't like picking my own balls up. But I think I'd better start now because it doesn't seem to do the guys I've seen this week any harm."

When Bladon arrived for his reconnaissance mission in Lancashire this week he noticed two chaps had already pencilled themselves in for a practice round. So he added his name to those of Norman and Price. "Well I'm hardly going to get another chance like that again," he said.

Bladon has also transported his 6ft 3in, 17-stone frame around Royal Lytham in the company of his American counterpart, the United States amateur champion Tiger Woods. A rich cosmopolitan blood flows through the latter's languid body as he is a blend of black, Thai, Chinese, American Indian and white relatives.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods received his sobriquet as an honour to the Vietnamese soldier who pulled his Green Beret father from a paddy field crackling with the reports of sniper fire. Earl Woods also probably recognised the sponsorship potential of such a name in golf (Jeremy Irons' father tried this technique, but his son was not as good at the sport).

Certainly, Woods Snr did not want his boy exposed on fields of war and chose instead the more salubrious pastures of the golf course. Tiger started playing the game aged six months, and, by the time he was two, he was on national television competing against Bob Hope in a driving and putting competition. At three he shot 48 for nine holes. More recently, he has been the US amateur champion for the past two seasons, pulling through a golfing jungle as stringent as the one his father once survived.

Woods is now 20, but behaves older. Perhaps the only element of the child in him is his phenomenal capacity for Big Macs, an area in which he is second only to Bluto in consumption. When it comes to hitting a golf ball, however, Tiger is more like Popeye.

The Stanford University economics student led the driving statistics in the US Open at Oakland Hills last month and has supplanted John Daly as the man who hurts golf balls most. Woods does his clubs no favours either and regularly caves in the face of his drivers.

Such length off the tee can cause problems for the tiro, as his second shot invariably calls for a half-hit wedge. This problem has been most apparent when Woods plays in the Masters. "There ain't enough golf courses out there for him," Tommy "Burnt Biscuits" Bennett, his caddie at the Augusta National, reported.

Bladon, it must be said, is no slouch with a driver either. At the first hole of his round with Norman, the 206-yard par three, he hit a three- iron to eight feet, inside his playing partners, and holed the putt. On the final hole he propelled his tee shot 350 yards, and then tidied up with a chip and a putt. "I have always dreamed about that walk between the last stands and birdie at the 18th," he said. "Whatever happens now, and my objective is to make the cut, I've done that."

As he retrieved his ball from the cup, Bladon was slapped on the back by the man he has admired above all in golf. Greg Norman then handed over a pounds 10 note, a Scottish one, his forfeit for defeat. It remains pinned up in the bedroom of Warren Bladon.

OPEN DETAILS

TODAY'S TEE-OFF TIMES

(GB or Irl unless stated): 0700 M Mackenzie, A Langenaeken (Bel), R Willison; 0711 P Lawrie, J Rivero (Sp), B Watts; 0722 D Gilford, I Baker-Finch (Aus), P Stewart (US); 0733 N Faldo, R Allenby (Aus), F Zoeller (US); 0744 R McFarlane, B Hughes (Aus), B Mayfair (US); 0755 F Couples (US), M McCumber (US), P Harrington; 0806 L Westwood, S Jones (US), W Riley (Aus); 0817 M James, P O'Malley (Aus), T Tolles (US); 0828 J Parnevik (Swe), B Charles (NZ), P Jacobsen (US); 0839 B Langer (Ger), T Kite (US), Y Kaneko (Japan); 0850 H Tanaka (Japan), S Ballesteros (Sp), J Maggert (US); 0901 B Faxon (US), D Frost (SA), C Montgomerie; 0912 D Feherty, J Haeggman (Swe), D A Weibring (US); 0923 J Haas (US), P Senior (Aus), H Clark; 0934 M O'Meara (US), T Lehman (US), A Forsbrand (Swe); 0945 L Roberts (US), G Turner (NZ), S Torrance; 0956 G Norman (Aus), S Stricker (US), J Payne; 1007 B Estes (US), W Westner (SA), P Eales; 1018 M A Jimenez (Sp), T Johnstone (Zimb), J Sluman (US); 1029 P Broadhurst, D Borrego (Sp), D Love III (US); 1040 R Drummond, S Field, M Welch; 1051 R Chapman, R Lee, H Meshiai (Japan); 1102 I Steel, F Tarnaud (Fr), B Mccoll; 1113 D Smyth, A Lebouc (Fr), A Mednick (Swe); 1124 G Emerson, *S Allan (Aus), M Litton; 1135 E Darcy, S Murphy (US), A Sherborne 1146 R Boxall, T Price (Aus), S Luna (Sp); 1157 D Duval (US), W Austin (US), B Lane. 1208 J Leonard (US), B Ogle (Aus), P McGinley; 1219 S Simpson (US), S Elkington (Aus), S Cage; 1230 E Romero (Arg), L Janzen (US), C Rocca (It); 1241 *W Bladon, A Oldcorn, B Barnes; 1252 J Daly (US), P Mickelson (US), S Higashi (Japan); 1303 M Jonzon (Swe), B Tway (US), S Ames (Tri); 1314 M Calcavecchia (US), C Strange (US), P-U Johansson (Swe); 1325 G Brand Jnr, S Maruyama (Japan), J Nicklaus (US); 1336 V Singh (Fiji), M Farry (Fr), J Furyk (US); 1347 T Herron (US), M McNulty (Zim), A Cejka (Ger); 1358 A Coltart, F Nobilo (NZ), M Brooks (US); 1409 P Hedblom (Swe), E Els (SA), C Stadler (US); 1420 C Parry (Aus), S Lyle, P Azinger (US); 1431 D Clarke, R Goosen (SA), *T Woods (US); 1442 B Crenshaw (US), N Price (Zim), P Walton; 1453 J Robson, *S Garcia (Sp), T Hamilton (US); 1504 G Player (SA), C Pavin (US), I Woosnam; 1515 P Mitchell, M Campbell (NZ), R Mediate (US); 1526 C Mason, T Bjorn (Den), S Bottomley; 1537 S Grappasonni (It), C Suneson (Sp), R Todd (Can); 1548 G Law, D A Russell, M Florioli (It) 1559 J Coceres (Arg), S Tinning (Den), K Fukunaga (Japan); 1610 D J Russell, D Hospital (Sp), G Brown; 1621 K Eriksson (Swe), M Hallberg (Swe), J Townsend (US).

* denotes amateur

CARD OF THE COURSE

Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par

1st 206 3 10th 334 4

2nd 437 4 11th 542 5

3rd 457 4 12th 198 3

4th 393 4 13th 342 4

5th 212 3 14th 445 4

6th 490 5 15th 463 4

7th 553 5 16th 357 4

8th 418 4 17th 467 4

9th 164 3 18th 414 4

Out 3,330 35 In 3,562 36

Total 6,892 71

Televison times

BBC2 10.25am-3.00pm; BBC1 3.00-5.35; BBC2 5.35-7.30pm

Latest odds

10-1 Faldo

14-1 Norman, Montgomerie, Els

22-1 Woosnam

25-1 Couples, Pavin

28-1 Mickleson

33-1 Price, Lehman, Allenby, Elkington, Faxon, Singh, Stewart

Odds supplied by Coral

Today's weather

Early mist, then dry, warm and sunny.

Temp: 22C

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world