Vanslow is dressed for success

Sartorially, there will be nobody able to touch him at Troon.
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There are two distinctive features about Vanslow Phillips, who is teeing up in the Open for the first time today. First is the name. "I think it is Romany in origin, but it is generations ago. It has just come down the line," the 25-year-old from Maidenhead said.

The second thing is that Phillips is the only player on the European Tour to play in a shirt and tie. "I find it really comfortable," he said, his tie tucked into his shirt. "You don't even know it is there. I really like the old-style golfers, Hogan and people like that. I've always looked for a niche for myself and this fits in nicely with the way I like to dress."

At the British seaside, the outfit may help him to stay warm, but what about in hot weather? "When it is hot, everyone is hot. Nobody can get away from the heat," he said.

Shortly after Phillips finished third in the South African PGA in 1995, his coach, Denis Pugh, introduced him to another of his clients, the chairman of Tie Rack. "It all tied in nicely," Phillips said. "We got together and he's been fantastic."

Phillips, a member of the 1993 Walker Cup team, had failed to get through the Qualifying School three times after turning professional and was on the Challenge Tour at the time.

"When you are on the Challenge Tour no one wants to know you," he said. "I also had backing from a friend of a golfing friend and you need all the help you can get. Look at the results; there is a guy who has shot 17 under and won pounds 2,000 and it has probably cost him over a grand to play. The next guy will be 10 under and he hasn't even broken even."

Phillips qualified from the junior circuit last year and secured his main card for next year by finishing third at the French Open last month. "Guys who turn pro from the school don't know what it is like on tour. A few can take it for granted, but they don't know what the alternatives are. I know what it is like to be on the Challenge Tour and I don't want to go back there."

A former judo player and occasional blues guitarist - "I still knock out a bit at Christmas parties, but not in front of the clubhouse" - Phillips has found that his golf has improved as his fitness has tailed off. "I am certainly in the worst shape I have ever been in," he said. "But whereas when you went to the Open qualifying as an amateur, you didn't feel you should be there, now I feel I should be here."