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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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It’s Open season

TODAY’S the day Ivor Robson’s voice will be breaking out the famous words. ‘Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the 141st Open Championship, this is match number one. On the tee from England, Barry Lane’.

Paul Rawlinson
Paul Rawlinson

By the time you get to read this, Barry Lane will have hit the opening shot, finished his round and The Open day one leaderboard will be taking shape.

The opening hole at Royal Lytham is unique in the Open course roster as it is the only course to begin with a par three. At 205 yards and featuring the first nine of the 200-plus bunkers on the course, it isn’t the shot you want to face to start your round when your name is announced.

Middle of the green, two putts and get off to the second tee will be every players plan to settle them into the round. Some will make bogey or worse and the lucky few will make birdies. So what does Lytham have in store?

1) Someone being in contention on final Sunday, hitting a career shot close to the first hole, to then be told walking up the fairway… “you are going to go ballistic, we have two drivers in the bag.”

For those that remember, that was what Ian Woosnam’s caddie had to tell him in 2001 after he started with 15 clubs in his bag and incurred a two-shot penalty.

2) Someone, on the 16th tee on the same final Sunday years previous, hitting a tee shot so far right it ended up in the BBC TV compound amongst the staff cars. Again, those that remember, the genius that was Seve Ballesteros then proceeded to pitch onto the green and hole the putt for birdie. Lucky? Not on your life. Having played a practice round with Johnny Miller, Seve asked about safe misses and Miller told him that with his length he should hit it hard and high and get over all the trouble. Seve did just that and was crowned champion.

3) Someone allegedly cheating on his way to victory! Something that still rumbles to this day regarding Gary Player’s victory in 1974. It is alleged on the 71st hole that, after hooking his shot violently in the rough and with only one minute allowed to find his ball, a marshall found a ball deemed to be Player’s.

Legend has it that Player’s caddie ‘Rabbit’ dropped this ball down his trouser leg to be found and allow Player to claim the victory. Legend also has it that the original ball has been found and is now under lock and key!

Whatever the truth regarding Gary Player’s ball, the Open usually throws up a few talking points. So sit back, relax and enjoy the greatest golf tournament from Barry Lane’s opening tee shot until Lee Westwood sinks the winning putt – you heard it here first!

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