BELFRY NOTEBOOK – FRIDAY
Our man at the course Matt Cooper reflects on Friday’s second round of the Quinn Direct British Masters at the Belfry.
THE WIND AND THE RAIN
Whilst the story of the day was the stormy weather – particularly the torrential downpour – don’t underestimate the force of the wind or the influence it had on the leaderboard.
The famous 18th hole was a ferocious test but holes eight and nine were just as difficult to negotiate as they played directly into the teeth of the wind. Kenneth Ferrie, not exactly the slightest of golfers, needed driver and utility club to reach the green on the 428 yard eighth and, prior to the wind changing direction late in the day, only three golfers were able to play those two holes under par.
The eighth green is protected at the front by a stream and it was there that Martin Erlandsson’s round was dealt a blow when his approach landed flush in the water. Given that he hit the approach from a fairway bunker and was playing into a gale it wasn’t the brightest shot, but perhaps he had heard of pinball wizard Ignacio Garrido’s adventures around the same stream.
Astonishingly Garrido’s ball crashed into a tree that overhangs the water, ricocheted into the stream, bounced up onto the bridge and then trickled to safety in the rough. The Spaniard failed to make the most of his good fortune, though, making bogey before drifting off the leaderboard on the back nine.
Behind the 17th green I bumped into a group of pale-faced, blond-haired fans wearing trendy golf gear and talking in a strange tongue. They weren’t discussing ski jumping and rally driving, but in all other respects it was kind of obvious that they were following Finland’s Mikko Ilonen.
Further investigation proved they were, in fact, friends of the two-time tour winner who was happy to answer my questions about his successful 2007.
A new-found confidence with the putter is the key ingredient, but punters might like to note that he prefers tough courses to birdie-fests and thrives on the pressure and limelight of the big events.
NOT SEEING THE WOOD FOR THE TREES
Finding himself stuck behind a dense thicket of trees to the right of the eleventh fairway after a wayward drive, Thomas Bjorn turned to his caddy Wobbly and muttered, “You know, if it weren’t for these pine trees, I’d have a gap to play for.” Cue giggles amongst the spectators.
It was pretty cold at 8.30 a.m. this morning but on the sixth green I did find a little ray of sunshine courtesy of Indian golfer Jyoti Randhawa.
Not only is Randhawa one of Asia’s finest golfers, he is also married to the Bollywood actress Chitrangda Singh and I can vouch for the fact that Mrs Randhawa is not only stunning, but also very willing to answer (with a radiant smile) the questions of a slightly besotted fool.
With Padraig Harrington opting out of next week’s Seve Trophy in Ireland and Nick Faldo choosing not to select his Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul McGinley (or indeed any other Irish golfer) the home support will have no-one to cheer.
It is difficult to know how Faldo could have justified picking McGinley on form, but the selection of Mike Weir for the World team in the President’s Cup in Canada did set something of a precedent and it is safe to say that the stony-faced McGinley thought it was an example Faldo ought to have followed.
Whilst on the subject of team competitions in Ireland, a marshal told me a story about last year’s Ryder Cup that is worth recounting. Apparently as many as 900 people signed up for marshalling duties and duly turned up on the first practice day to collect their caps, rain-suits and course badges. Then 300 of them disappeared never to be seen again!
Just to complete the confusion, the fellow in charge of communication bought a new set of radios. Unfortunately he forgot to buy any batteries.
My colleague Harry Emanuel is worried that I am stalking Johan Edfors. So, just for him I would like to report that the Swede was today looking good in green slacks, lime jumper and a camouflage cap and shoe combination that was vaguely reminiscent of Corey Pavin’s War on the Shore outfit, but more stylish and significantly less offensive.
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