Can’t applaud, but not unsporting really (British Open Golf Diary)

July 17th, 2008 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Southport (Britain), July 17 (IANS) In Britain, discussing weather is quite usual. And the weather Thursday, the first day of the 137th British Open, was anything but normal. Wet and windy, it demanded tremendous patience, precision and pragmatism to ensure a decent start to the championship. And, what about the fans, who came to see the golf? The birdies were fewer, and so was the applause, but not because the crowd was not sporting. It was simply because the elements came in their way. The fans could be pardoned because it is never easy to clap while holding an umbrella.

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Lyle withdraws to avoid damaging confidence

Sandy Lyle, who it has been rumoured might come to play in India in a Seniors European Tour tournament later this year attracted a lot of adverse comments, as he walked off the golf course, when he was 10-over for the first 10 holes. That led to the criticism that just because he had a bad day he may well have taken the place of some other player who would have wanted to qualify to play the Open.

Lyle, the 1985 Open champion at Royal St.Georges, also won the 1988 Masters and turned 50 this February. He probably wanted to avoid doing any more damage to his confidence as he is due to play his first Seniors Masters later this month.

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Watson turns the clock back

It is exactly 25 years since Tom Watson, now 58, won the fifth of his five British Open titles and that, too, at the same Royal Birkdale. The course may no longer be the same as it was in 1983, when he won it, but Watson did make a perfect start to his championship with a birdie at the first hole. Playing an eventful round, he had three birdies for his four-over 74 that really did not look too bad on a day when scoring was really tough. Also shooting a 74 was Justin Rose whose amazing fourth place finish in 1998 at the same venue had first marked him out as a player of great promise.

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Names with adverse conditions

With tough conditions on the opening day, one of the games commentators tried to find players whose names had a bit of ‘bad weather’ in them. There was David Frost, whose birthday curiously reads 9/11, though the year was 1949; the 30-year-old Graeme Storm whose sole European Tour win came at the French Open ALSTOM and the 24-year-old Australian amateur Rohan Blizard. Storm shot a six-over 76, while Frost was three-over after nine and Blizard was three-over after six holes.

The weather improved in the afternoon. But there really was not much hope for low scores as the players were content to play safe.

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