The New Men on the Tee
This morning, for the first time since 1974, there is a new man introducing the players on the first tee at The Open.
Ivor Robson retired last year after concluding his duties at The 144th Open at St Andrews and this morning his familiar Scottish Lilt was replaced by the more neutral tones of David Lancaster.
"On the tee..." will never sound the same again…
This morning it was Lancaster who welcomed Colin Montgomerie onto the first tee for the opening match at 6.35am but for the rest of the week he will be sharing starter duties with his sidekick Matt Corker. Not for them Robson’s stoic refusal to leave the tee for 14 hours at a time. They plan to be just as efficient as predecessor Robson but are willing to bow to the fact that nature sometimes calls.
Lancaster was in touch with Robson for some last minute advice and was touched by the encouragement he received. "I phoned him a couple of weeks ago," said the 58-year-old former Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander from Lancaster. "A wonderful gentleman.
"He gave me at least an hour on the phone and some brilliant bits of advice, which I shall not share publicly," he added with a grin.
The R&A has selected Lancaster and former Royal Hong Kong police officer, Corker, for a number of reasons, not the least of which were their pleasant demeanour and public speaking skills. They will also be expected to pronounce even the trickier foreign players’ names with confidence so it is probably just as well Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai was playing in this week’s Junior Open Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) rather than the main event at Royal Troon.
This week Lancaster and Corker were introduced to a select group of journalists and almost to a man and woman these members of the Fourth Estate wanted to know how Robson had managed to remain on the tee without ever taking a comfort break.
They responded like the seasoned double act they are likely to become.
"I'm going to reveal a 41-year-old secret," said Lancaster. "But there's a tube and a bucket involved."
"And I'm the one in charge of holding the tube and the bucket," quipped Corker.
"If it should go to a play-off, Matt will have to deal with it, as it's my 25th wedding anniversary and I've already got my holiday booked," Lancaster concluded.