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Day 5 in ScotlandPosted Friday, July 17, 2009, at 2:00 PM
Friday was my first chance to get on the course and see Turnberry, site of this week's Open Championship. The group that I picked to follow at 12.47 local time featured Kenny Perry (+1), Kentucky native and Masters runner-up; Greg Norman (+7), former Open winner and Oliver Wilson (+2), from England who was a European Ryder Cup member in 2008.
Speculation at the time I write this is that the cut will be (+3). The weather, or lack thereof, has been a major story in the first couple of days of this Open Championship. Sunny calm skies were the order of the day on Thursday. The second round forecast was for rain and wind.
The Scottish weather people have totally missed it. It has been slightly breezy, cloudy and warmer than predicted. The weather has been reflected in the scores. The last time the Open was at Turnberry in 1994, the cut score was (+4).
I walked the first seven holes today before writing this story. The key to scoring at Turnberry is accurate driving. The fescue, called hee by the Scots is very healthy near the fairway cut. An errant tee shot will most certainly result in a bogey or, at least, a great saving par.
The terrain at Turnberry is rugged. It is tough walking for the spectators and there were many reported injuries yesterday from falls down the hillsides. The course is a true links course by the fact the players go out for 11 holes before returning back to the clubhouse on the final 7 holes.
In the threesome that I followed, there was not much in the way of dramatics. Perry birdied the first hole with an approach that left him a 3-footer. He pared the next six holes to stay at level for the Open.
Norman drove it in the hee on the first three holes and managed to lose just one shot to par. But, it is looking like he will finish over par in double digits and miss the cut. Wilson has been errant off the tee and was hanging on the cut line.
A necessary part of walking and watching the Open at Turnberry is buying one of the small transistor radios that broadcast the BBC feed on 107.5 FM. The cost for the radio and two extra sets of double AA batteries is 10 pounds- $16.20 U.S.
The BBC radio feed is always entertaining. They invite emails from all over the world throughout the broadcast and periodically read questions from listeners. The geography represented ranges from Morocco to Australia; from Portugal to Japan; from the U.S. to Sweden. The questions and answers are both unpredictable. The dialogue can be as hysterical as an episode of Monte Python!
One discussion dealt with the greatest rain jacket player of all-time. After little debate it was agreed upon that Sandy Lyle, a Scot, was the winner. There was an all out argument on whether or not shades (sunglasses) caused distortion on the green when trying to read putts.
As Camilo Villegas went to the First Tee, a BBC commentator remarked that Villegas always wears tight fitting shirts to show he is ripped.
This prompted a response from his BBC colleague, The only time in your life that you have been ripped is when you drank too much beer!
As I reached the Sixth Tee at Turnberry, a 231 yard par three, I looked over my left shoulder and found myself standing next to Jim Nantz, CBS sports. We have become acquaintances over the past couple of years and it was great to rekindle our friendship.
The Emmy Award winning announcer was making his first trip to the Open Championship since 1980. I am just here walking and watching, said Nantz. Interestingly enough, he like me, had the BBC transistor plugged into his left ear listening to the broadcast.
Nantz will be here until Sunday. He asked about his good friend Craig Kelley, Vice President of Media Relations for the Indianapolis Colts and said, Wait until Craig hears that we met on the Sixth Tee at Turnberry!
We walked the hole and watched the group play the tough par three. As we reached the Sixth green, our vantage point was one of the highest on the course. We could see the 7th and 17th two great par 5s. Nantz smiled and said, Television just doesnt dot it justice, does it?
Nantz left for the hospitality area where he had an obligation with Rolex. I left for the Media Center where I had an obligation with you to meet a deadline!
As I write, I hear the rain pounding on the Media tent. The television monitor in front of me is showing umbrellas, sideways rain and grimaces from players who are out there grinding to make the cut and finish the round. It keeps raining harder and for the moment these are Open Championship conditions at their best. The weather people have been saved.
It promises to be an exciting weekend. Steve Marino, an America who made the Open field as an alternate, is currently on top of the leader board. Names like Calcavecchia, Watson, Fisher, Goosen, Jimenez, Kuboya, Villegas, Goggin, Weekley and Grace are right below. The cut line has gone to (+3) and could go higher.
I am headed to Gleneagles tonight on the Orient Express for a dinner with the people from Turner Sports, a major sponsor for PGA of America. So, to all of you lads and lassies, See you on the weekend
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