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Tales from Turnberry

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Rob Hodgetts | 15:01 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

Our men Rob Hodgetts and Mark Orlovac give their latest updates from the Open at Turnberry...

You ask the questions

Thursday, late afternoon - On Twitter we have been asking you to send in your questions for us to put to the great and the good of the golfing world.

Here's some answers to the best so far:

@davethyl asks: "Do the R&A have any plans to extend the rota of courses, or are they happy with their lot? Would love to see it in Portrush."

Mark Orlovac tracked down R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, who said: "The R&A is always looking at venues but there are not very many that begin to qualify in terms of either the golf course or the infrastructure required to support an Open championship.

"Royal Portrush has hosted the Open once before in 1951 and it is clearly a wonderful golf course, there is no doubt about that.

"Whether it has the infrastructure to support the big crowds that would come to the championship or produce the commercial results that the Open needs, I think would be the issue there.

"We need a good championship result with so much of the Open's profits going to golf development programs around the world.

"We strike a balance. We have got nine very good venues at the moment and we have no immediate plans to increase it."

@NeilGood asks: "What is the most popular driver with this year's players?"

Well, having chatted to the lady who records each and every bit of equipment worn, carried or swung this week I can tell you. Although, this being the BBC, I can't actually name it. But I can say it's made by a chap called Taylor, and if I tell you I have 10 tees and then take one away then there "blank blank" left. Geddit?

@mccomb asks: "Does a ball hit by Tiger Woods travel faster than a serve by Andy Roddick? Or is a nifty Aussie bowler quicker?"

Who better to answer this one than Woods's former coach Butch Harmon. Here's what the guru told me: "Tiger hits the ball at about 175 miles per hour. That's the velocity with his general aggressive driver swing. Anything between 165mph and 175mph is about right."

Well, Andy Roddick's world record for a serve is 155mph and Aussie paceman Brett Lee whangs it down at about 93mph. So Tiger wins. Again.

Send in more questions to this blog or the Twitter pages of Rob Hodgetts and Mark Orlovac and we'll hunt out the answers to the next batch on Friday.

Wise old Watson

Thursday, early afternoon - Sitting in on Tom Watson's post-round news conference was like being in the presence of a kindly uncle.

The five-time champion still exudes grace, charm and manners. And on top of that he can still shoot 65 around Turnberry in the Open Championship.

"I can still compete against the kids," he said, grinning like one.

Watson played with 16-year-old British amateur champion Matteo Manassero, and the 59-year-old clearly enjoyed seeing the youngster take on his first Open.

"His eyes were a dead giveaway," he said. "He was definitely in awe of the place."

But Watson also hankered for old times and old friends.

"There's something slightly spiritual about today," he said. "I received a text yesterday, a modern text, from Barbara Nicklaus. She wished me good luck.

"I texted her back and said, 'You know, we really miss you over here.' And I really meant it. It's not the same without Jack playing in the tournament."

Watson, who will be inextricably linked with Turnberry for his "Duel in the Sun" heroics against Nicklaus in 1977, also relived a moment after the 1994 Open here when he and Nicklaus nipped out to play the par-three course one night.

"On Sunday we had dinner with Jack and Barbara and after a couple of bottles of wine we went out and played at about 11pm. And here comes the security man when we were just about to finish. I said, "Jack, you go talk to him. I'm not going to talk to him."

The guy walks sternly up, like he's going to run us off the course, and (seeing who it was) says, "Oh, Mr Nicklaus, carry on please."

Experience not only helps on the golf course, it provides a wealth of good tales, too.

Twit for tat

One cheeky reporter during Tom Watson's news conference said that he wasn't sure what was more impressive, the 59-year-old's score or the fact that someone of his age could send a text message.

"Don't ask me to Twit, or Tweet. I don't Tweet," said the laughing Watson.

He may not, but there's plenty who do. It's the phenomenon that's taken the world by storm.

Ian Poulter is a prolific Twitterer and has 261,780 followers and counting, while John Daly is also a massive Tweeter.

As well as virtually every media man worth his salt, including us, other illustrious names to embrace the social media revolution here at the Open include Paul Casey, Rory McIlory, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink to name a few.

No Tiger though. Although he does blog.

A day in the life...

Thursday morning - As the 138th Open Championship got under way, we went behind the scenes to get an insight into the life of the man responsible for putting the tournament together .

David Hill, the R&A's championship director, told Mark Orlovac how he spent the eve of the Open.

"Alarm went at 0500 BST, got to the course at 0530. First job - a cup of coffee!

"Started with usual check of the pay gates, car parks, catering tents and the competitors tent, which was open before I got to the course.

"Checked tented village and finalised Thursday's draw sheets. That was all done by half past seven.

"Had breakfast and from eight I had a few press interviews and meetings.

"Met the first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, at 11am with R&A chief executive Peter Dawson and championship committee chairman Michael Brown. We were with him until midday, talking about the Open in Scotland.

"Attended R&A press conference at 1300 BST in the media tent and after that we drew up a rota for the referees and their guided tours before having lunch with my son at three.

"After four I started to wind down. Left the course at eight because of another early start.

"Had dinner at the rented house for the first time in eight days, followed by a walk on the beach to watch the sunset and then back home to bed."

We'll quiz a different personality on Friday.

Tip of the day

Watch this space for a daily tip for the average amateur player trying to get the most from their game.

The first comes from Ross Fisher's coach Kristian Baker, of Wentworth:

"It's amazing the number of times you see club golfers have no consistency in their routine and then expect consistency in their golf game. The guys on Tour are very consistent in their pre-shot routine. That's that what separates club golfers from pro golfers.

"Another good tip, although it is contradictory because there are no short-term fixes, is to take lessons. All the best players in the world take lessons and club golfers tend not to.

"Einstein said something along the lines of you can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

"Like all things in life, if it's going to be good you have to work at it. If you're not happy with your golf game you have to change what you do. If t's something you are passionate about and want to improve, say, your 18 handicap and get down to 14, you have to give it some dedication and time."

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  • Comment number 1.

    I hate to sound like a buzzkill, but I cannot believe you actually hyperlinked the word 'text' to a photo of a mobilephone saying 1 message recieved.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog, Rob. Tom Watson really is a class act, isn't he? It's just so refreshing to see how he carries himself on and off the course. Contrast that with Tiger's club throwing and swearing... I loved the story about him and Nicklaus on the par 3 course in 1994. I'd love Tom to do what Greg Norman did last year and get himself in the final group on Sunday. What a story that would be. Any news on the weather for tomorrow? I hear it's going to be a bit 'unsettled'.

  • Comment number 3.

    Can someone please get the golf announcers to pronounce the Spanish/Latin one golf-pro name properly? Why do all the announcers insist in pronouncing the Spanish name 'Angel' the way we pronounce the word Angle (as in corner). If they insist on Anglicizing it, say it as we would in English, the same as we say Angel (as in heaven), i.e. Ain'-gel.
    Can you also bring Gary Lineker up to speed on another name. Camillo Villegas name is pronounced Vee-ay'-gas. GAry Lineker has put his own twist on the name and repeatedly calls him Vee-jay'-gas. Looks like someone told him to pronounce it like the (Spanish) 'j' and he's saying pronouncing it like the English 'j'.

    Here's a pronounciation guide I copy/pasted from Spanish Language.

    Thanks very much.

    G is pronounced much like the English "g" in "go," EXCEPT when it precedes an i or e. In those cases, it is pronounced like the Spanish j. Examples: gordo, gritar, gigante, mágico.
    J (and the g when before an e or i) can be difficult, as its sound, that of the German ch, is absent in English except for a few foreign words where it is sometimes retained, as in the final sound of loch or the initial sound of Channukah. The sound is sometimes described as a heavily aspirated "h," made by expelling air between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. IF YOU CAN'T PRONOUNCE IT WELL, YOU'LL BE UNDERSTOOD BY USING THE 'H' SOUND OF 'HOUSE'.
    LL is usually pronounced like the "y" in "yellow." There are some regional variations, however. In parts of Spain it has the sound of the "ll" in "million," and in parts of Argentina it has the "zh" sound of "azure." Examples: llama, calle, Hermosillo.


  • Comment number 4.

    Forgot to add this (see pronunciation guide earlier).
    Pronunciation of Angel the Spanish way is either
    On'-hell or On'-chell.
    But it is certainly not 'Angle'

  • Comment number 5.

    bbc commentary Fri 17th July 2009 Open Golf
    "McIlroy's walking along the fairway with his nuts in his hands" - Ken Brown I think!! ............ brilliant!!
    Question: Is this within the rules of golf? and if so is it within the spirit of the game ? - ha ha!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    I also wish to make my comments about the way tiger woods threw his clubs yesterday. It was terrible behaviour for the golf number 1 he should be setting a good example to others and I feel he should and any golfer should be punished for that behaviour.


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