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The Open News

The Open Notebook


Hollywood endings, language barriers and brolley dashes

Sandy Lyle

Friday was cut day at Carnoustie with only the top 70 players and ties making it to the weekend, where three-balls become two-balls and the destination of the Claret Jug is decided.

Big names such as Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy started to climb up the leaderboard, Zach Johnson continues to fly under the radar and Kevin Kisner isn’t about to disappear.

But there were plenty of quirky stories popping up at Carnoustie and we run you through them in our daily Open Notebook.

Sandy’s fairytale finish

Sandy Lyle has been the centre of plenty of attention this week in what could be his final Open – with his exemption for being 1985 Champion Golfer expiring this year after he turned 60 in February.

Lyle has expressed his intention to attempt to qualify for next year’s edition at Royal Portrush but if this is his last Open, then what a way to finish, birdieing 18 with five-time Champion Golfer Tom Watson watching on...

Lyle finished at nine-over, after a 75 and a 76, and missed the cut but will head to St Andrews for the Senior Open next week, where victory would secure him an exemption for The 2019 Open.

“After 40-odd plus years of playing in the tournament,  to have the pleasure of doing the opening tee shot was quite special to me,” said Lyle. “It shows that they care and they appreciate what I've done over the years.

“I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. It's quite a spectacular view to come down there and to make birdie was extra special.

“I managed to stay away from crying but definitely a lump in the throat, definitely.”



Can anyone speak American?

In his post-round press conference, Rory McIlroy was asked by an American journalist to sum up the notoriously treacherous final four holes at Carnoustie in one word.

“It's a bit of a slog, I guess,” said McIlroy. “If you make four pars there, you're very happy. I've played those eight holes this week at one-over par and I feel pretty good about that.”

A perfectly good answer but the American journalist looked slightly befuddled.“Can you translate ‘slog’?” he asked, to which McIlroy responded: “No.” Cue laughter from the rest of the press room.

“I guess, ‘tough’,” relented the Northern Irishman. “‘Tough’ is sort of generic. Anyway, I'll get my dictionary out next time, or thesaurus."

Some language barriers are just too big to breach.

Old School Johnson

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the house nearby being shared by a lot of the American golfers, which has included games of ‘soccer’ in the back garden.

High-flying duo Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner are there, along with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler.

At 42 years old, 2015 Champion Golfer Johnson is the ‘father of the house’ and admits he is feeling his age slightly among the young bucks.

“I wasn't in a fraternity in college but it kind of feels like I'm going back to my alma mater, and I'm the old guy stepping into the current frat house,” smiled Johnson.

“It’s Old School-ish [the 2003 Will Ferrell film]. No, that's an exaggeration. We still have Jimmy Walker and Dufner and I. Jimmy is almost 40. Duff is 40. Granted, I'm 42...

“It’s the third year we've done it – it has been the same guys every year, and this year we added Kiz.“If there’s a waiting list to get in, I'm not privy to it. I would hope that I have a vote!”

Angus comes to Angus

South African amateur Jovan Rebula (who also happens to be Ernie Els’ nephew) had something of a baptism by fire in his first Open this week, shooting back-to-back 79s to end at 16-over.

But he also took the opportunity to spend his time on the Angus links catching up with an old pal.


“I had my best mate on the bag this week – Angus Cole,” said Rebula. “We used to travel together playing golf tournaments. “We kind of travelled together when we were younger and we're great friends. For me, I don't always get to see him.

“So every opportunity I can have with him, you know, is really special to me. Having him on the bag this week was just unbelievable. It was fun, and I think it was good for him too.”

He's no wally without a brolley

Top contender Tommy Fleetwood doesn’t normally travel with a brolley - so caddie Ian Finnis needed some quick-thinking when they arrived on the first tee and it was raining.

You’d have thought - growing up on the links courses of Lancashire - that Fleetwood would know about the weather but they are made of tough stuff up there.

“We got given an official Open umbrella for free, we didn't steal it,” he said. “It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Tommy Fleetwood

Russell’s robe

On Thursday, Russell Knox admitted he was overawed to play alongside his hero Tiger Woods and while he was over that by Friday, he unfortunately missed the cut after a second consecutive 73 left him at four-over.

That means the great Scottish hope won’t be around for the weekend but at least he’s got some home comforts waiting to cheer him up.

“It will be nice to go home,” said Knox, who has played a relentless schedule of late. “I'm fed up wearing the same clothes for the last six weeks packed in my bag.

“I don’t wear very much at home. I've got this nice robe, I'm a good pyjama guy. And slippers, of course.”

Burn, baby Burn

Like any good relationship, there is plenty of give and take between Sergio Garcia and the Barry Burn at Carnoustie.

On Thursday, Garcia landed in the Burn on the 10th hole and played the ball out (as Jean van de Velde would have liked to in 1999), only for it to land in a bunker and the Spaniard to make bogey.

On Friday, his second shot on 18 was from the left rough and the ball landed in the Burn once more, only to hit the back wall and bounce back out into play.

Garcia got up and down to make par but at four-over for the championship, missed the cut.The Burn giveth and the Burn taketh away.

Adam Scott Caddy

New caddie making it a Sune week for Scott

Adam Scott has pulled out all the stops in pursuit of a maiden Claret Jug this week, even tempting legendary caddie Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to be on his bag.

Sunesson caddied Sir Nick Faldo to four major titles in the 1990s – including two Opens – and her presence has helped the Australian post rounds of 71 and 70 to sit nicely at one-under.

“It's been going great,” said Scott, who heartbreakingly missed out on being Champion Golfer of the Year by one stroke when he bogeyed the final four holes at Royal Lytham in 2012.

“Fanny is obviously a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting. We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly and we think about things in a very similar way.

“I'd like to be able to put her to the test a bit over the weekend, if we can get in contention.”

Happy birthday Shubhankar!

Shubhankar Sharma gave himself an early birthday present when he holed a gutsy six-foot putt on the 18th to climb to two-over and guaranteed that he made the cut.

The Indian star turns 22 on Saturday and looked like he might be making the trip home but hit a glorious iron to within six feet on the 18th green and sunk the putt to book a birthday celebration at Carnoustie on Saturday.

“After you make the putt, it's very sweet. Before the putt, it's very nerve-wracking,” explained Sharma.“I'm really happy that I've made the cut. This is my favourite major championship and this is my first major cut.

“It’s definitely a big moment for me and I have my birthday tomorrow. So it will be the best birthday present!”

Quote of the day

Australian summer days are scorching and sun-filled. A Carnoustie summer day brought constant rain and cold. World No.9 – and Australian – Jason Day does not like rain...

“It didn't stop raining the whole time,” grumbled Day. “It was just tough because by the end, everything was wet. My whole bag is wet. The clubs are wet. It was a tough finish.

“Hopefully we get some nice weather tomorrow. Even if it's windy, as long as it's not wet...”
Tiger Chip

Picture of the day

Out of position and facing a steep incline with the ball above his feet, Tiger Woods opted to be bold.

He fired a low, bending shot that was designed to whip just past the crowd standing above him and into the green.

Unfortunately, as this shot shows, he got far too close to the gallery and it went on to hit several of them before settling again in the rough.