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The Open Notebook - Kisner repeats a feat as Noren gets upstaged on Open eve
Finau

It was Christmas Eve at Carnoustie as players went through their final day of practice before the main event starts at 6.35am on Thursday morning.

Last-minute preparations were made by the pros, Rory McIlroy and Gary Player headlined the day’s press conferences and the crowds continued to grow.

Here's some the inside track from our team inside the ropes.

Challenge accepted

Kevin Kisner played a practice round with Zach Johnson and when his fellow American laid down a challenge on the sixth hole, Kisner couldn’t resist.

The 34-year-old chipped in from off the sixth green, leading to shouts of “Do it again!” from 2015 Champion Golfer Johnson.

So Kisner duly did – lining up and playing the same shot with exactly the same result, the ball trickling into the bottom of the cup. Your move Zach!

Kisner

Shhhh, Mummy

As Alex Noren walked to the 18th green with practice partners Lin Yuxin and Tony Finau, he had a very excited welcome party to meet him – wife Jennifer and young daughter Iris.

Upon seeing her father – who was just about to practise a few chips from off the green – Iris squealed ‘Papa’ and started running towards him, yammering away in Swedish.

When shushed by her mother, Iris turned round, put her finger to her lips and shushed her right back – to hoots of laughter from the galleries around the 18th and chuckles from Finau and Lin.

Iris then demonstrated some burgeoning sporting prowess of her own by throwing away, with some velocity it must be said, the golf balls given to her by Noren to play with.

My bad!

Jordan Spieth was on the course with good friend Justin Thomas (who is still unshaven) but his radar was slightly off early in his round.

The reigning Champion Golfer hit a brilliant drive up the middle of the 15th fairway but unfortunately, he was playing the fourth at the time.

A quick apology to the players coming the other way and Spieth promptly struck a beautiful iron shot to within six feet of the (correct) hole.

JordanSpiethCarnoustie

That earned a generous round of applause from the crowd but one spectator had been unimpressed when the Texan landed a string of bunker shots within two feet on the second hole.

“I can do that,” insisted the boastful fan. The instant derisive laughter from his friends suggests he may have been overestimating his own golfing ability.

Success in golf is judged by how much you win but it’s also like business... and marriage...

As per usual, the brilliant Gary Player was in vintage form during his press conference.

More sprightly and sharp-witted than most men 50 years his junior, you could fill an entire book with choice quotes from the three-time Champion Golfer’s half an hour with the media this afternoon.

But we’ll give you this snippet.

“If you run a business of any kind, you judge it by the bottom line,” began Player. “If you have a good marriage, and I'm happy to say I've been married 61 years, you judge that by how much you tell your wife you love her every day. There's always a bottom line in every business.

“So when you judge players -- and I have a very different way of judging players which is just my personal view – I go by the bottom line what people did, what's on paper.

“Not how charismatic they were, not how far they hit the ball, not how good a putter they were but what they won. Winning, what they won. You put that on paper.”

With nine major titles to his name, no-one can say Player doesn’t recognise a winner.

GaryPlayerCarnoustie

Quiet please … we’re putting

Crouched over a putt on the 17th green, even the notoriously well-mannered and even-tempered Matt Kuchar arched an eyebrow as yet another passing train driver showed their appreciation for the world’s best golfers with a blast of their horn.

But the train is a great way to take away the strain of getting to Carnoustie. Indeed you can jump on the 9.15pm Caledonian Sleeper in London and be dropped off right beside the course nine hours later - giving you 12 minutes to make the first tee-off time.

All eyes on the scoreboard - will it be a record-breaking day?

Ahead of the first round, here’s some records to watch out for.

Sergio Garcia’s 65 in 2007 is the lowest first-round score in eight editions of The Open at Carnoustie. Richard Green holds The Open course record with his final-round 64 11 years ago but Tommy Fleetwood set the course record with a 63 at last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championships.

Times are a changin’

In an era where golf courses are getting longer, the R&A have trimmed 19 yards off the length of Carnoustie – which has allowed them to have to make an amphitheatre of stands around the first tee.

When The Open first came here in 1931, the winner banked £100 – in addition to the priceless Claret Jug on Sunday, the Champion Golfer will walk off with a cheque for £1.42m, part of a huge £7.9 million prize fund.

Memories of Carnoustie’s past

Rory McIlroy was reminiscing about his first Open at Carnoustie in 2007 today, when he won the Silver Medal as leading amateur.

Which reminds us of Scott Verplank’s quote about him 11 years ago."He's 18, looks 14 and plays like a 28-year-old," he said. McIlroy turned 29 in May.

 

Rory 2007

Quote of the day

“My goal for the week is not to take it too seriously. I want to have fun because the main key to me playing well is to be happy.”

Former European Tour player James Robinson nearly gave up golf and gave 20 lessons in his new club pro role before winning Regional Qualifying last month. Another win at St Annes put him in the field.

Picture of the day

An optical illusion? A physics-defying club? Or just the power of Sergio Garcia’s swing? You decide.

 

GarciaBentClub