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The Open News

The Open Notebook


Bad hair days, ink stinks and Rory Quackilroy


It was moving day at The 147th Open and birdies were flying in all over the place at Carnoustie, as the world’s best manoeuvred themselves into position ahead of Sunday’s crunch final round.

Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner lead overnight on nine-under while a certain Tiger Woods had Carnoustie rocking with a magical round reminiscent of his heyday.

But as ever, there were also plenty of quirky stories to be found around the Angus links and we run through them in our daily Open Notebook.

Spieth’s bad hair day

While waiting for his third-round tee time, Jordan Spieth decided he needed an impromptu haircut, so he wandered into the centre of Carnoustie and found the nearest barber shop.

Perhaps the trans-Atlantic language barrier that flummoxed Rory McIlroy and an American journalist on Friday came into play once more but Spieth ended up with a far more severe haircut than he would’ve liked.

Polite Champion Golfer that he is however, the Texan still tipped generously.

“My hair got a little long and I needed to get a haircut, so I did this morning,” explained Spieth, to the pack of surprisingly enraptured journalists.

“I don't even know where I went and I don’t think the barber knew who I was – he didn't really say much.

“He went a little high and tight. It was intended to be what I normally get and instead he went a little shorter. A very British haircut – a little shaved on the sides, a little longer on top.“I paid £20, I think. It was like a £9 and I tipped them...”

A British haircut you say, Jordan? You’re welcome!

Spieth putt

Sean’s ink made a stink at home

Few things irk some parents more than their children getting tattoos and that’s exactly what Gary Crocker – who was actually part of the first Zimbabwe Test cricket team back in 1992 – felt when son Sean arrived home with his arm inked in his younger years.

“I don't think he talked to me the first two weeks, and the first two tattoos were of my mum and dad,” said Sean, who made the cut this week and shot 69 on Saturday to sit tied-28th on two-under.

“I kind of always had a liking of tattoos. I kind of went behind their back and got the first one when I was getting my allowance. I saved up a bit and got the first two, and I showed my mum and she kind of laughed.

“It's just their initials and a word describing them, so my mom is "caring" and my dad is "resilient" because he bends but never breaks with me.”

On your marks

Keir McNicoll fulfilled a childhood dream by playing in The Open this morning – and even though his name won’t appear on any leaderboards, the marker couldn’t care less.

McNicoll is the Senior PGA Assistant Professional at Carnoustie and had to play an 18 alongside Gavin Green after an odd number of players made the cut.

His 9.15am tee off time didn’t relieve him of his other club responsibilities for the rest of the day though.

“I was in the shop at 4.30am on Friday morning, then I was working throughout the day, so I was too tired to even go to the range when I found out I would be playing at 9pm,” explained McNicoll.

“I’m working this afternoon as well! I’ll go in about 3pm or 4pm and work until 10pm in the shop, just looking after the guests and families in case anyone is looking to buy mementoes.

“I got up at 6am this morning but I only live 100 yards around the corner, so it’s not too bad. My duties in the shop, the general coaching and the coaching of juniors I do here are always my priority.”


Locke and load

What a week it has been for 19-year-old Sam Locke – winning the Silver Medal as the low amateur, being the only Scot to make the cut and posting a one-under round of 70 on Saturday to head into the final day at +2 for the Championship.

And now he’s met golfing royalty after spending some time chatting to five-time Champion Golfer Tom Watson, presumably getting plenty of tips for the future from the great man.

Locke’s hero growing up was Rory McIlroy and with the Silver Medal guaranteeing him a meeting with the 2018 Champion Golfer on Sunday, the Scot lives in hope.

Man who’s been dead for 143 years holds no fear for Spieth

One of the more esoteric stats you’ll hear this week was raised by a journalist in the Jordan Spieth press conference – if Spieth retains the Claret Jug on Sunday, he and Young Tom Morris will be the only players under the age of 25 to defend their title.

Morris did it as an 18-year-old in 1869 and then again as a 19-year-old in 1870, so if anything his feat is more impressive than the potential one from a veteran 24-year-old such as Spieth.

Yet cowardly Spieth decided to disparage the legendary Morris’s achievement, safe in the knowledge that he couldn’t be hurt by a man who died on Christmas Day 1875...

“That's a little before any comparison I’ve ever previously heard,” said a slightly bemused Spieth to the journalist.

“I mean, that's another 75 years behind the whole Nicklaus and Palmer era...  I would have never known had you not said it.

“But does it change anything? No, probably not. I'd argue there was less players playing back then. It might have been a little easier to do, and I don't think he's going to get mad at me.”

We’re still awaiting a response from Young Tom Morris.

Happy birthday to Shu

For most people, spending their birthday playing at The Open is a pipedream but for Shubhankar Sharma it was reality on Saturday.

The Indian celebrated turning 22 by shooting a level-par 71, leaving him at two-over.

“This is the best birthday gift for me, just playing at The Open,” he said. “Perfect.”

“I got so many birthday messages but I didn't really want to answer everyone in the morning because I had to play.

“I'll obviously go and see all the messages now but I was really happy with all the support I got.”


Rory Quackilroy meet Chickie Fowler

A petting zoo where the animals are named after golfers – now that’s our sort of petting zoo!

A yearly tradition at The Open, the children of the players got to handle the animals such as Kevin Hissner (a snake), Rory Quackilroy (duck) and Chickie Fowler (chicken).

Absolute genius!

An and Na curry favour...

Carnoustie is renowned for a couple of highly-regarded curry houses, so it’s appropriate that Kevin Na and Byeong Hun An were playing together today.

Combined, their surnames make the word Naan and An certainly seemed to curry favour with the golfing gods as he carded a 66 to lie at -3 for the championship.

The pair are good friends – they were nattering away about different airlines and which has the best first-class experience during a practice round together earlier this week – but won’t be playing together on Sunday after Na’s two-over 73 left him at +3.

Quote of the day

Tiger Woods has a very keen interest in Japan, possibly rugby and young South Africans’ schooldays, according to playing partner Shaun Norris, when asked what he and Tiger chatted about during their round today.

“Well, he's good friends with Ernie, so we typically talk about rugby and things like that,” said Norris.

“What kinds of things we did in our schooldays and that sort of thing. Basically, asking where most of the golf I play, which is in Japan.”

Picture of the day

An eighth Champion Golfer will be crowned at Carnoustie this week but a nice touch from The Open’s wardrobe department commemorated the previous seven winners at the Angus links.