Get all the anecdotes and interviews in our daily diary from the 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie in Scotland.
Six players will be battling for the silver medal awarded to the leading amateur in the Open Championship – but Wales’ Llewellyn Matthews also has his eyes on the bigger prize.
“I’m quite confident,” the 23-year-old from Bridgend told PA Sport. “Getting through the cut and winning that silver medal would be ideal, to be there listening to the winner’s speech on Sunday – if it’s not me doing it.”
Matthews’ tongue was firmly in his cheek at the time, but the Welsh Amateur champion is right to be in confident mood after winning the St Andrews Links Trophy recently before coming through qualifying for the Open.
And a practice round with US Open champion Angel Cabrera yesterday will be followed by the first two rounds proper in the company of world number nine Luke Donald and American Charles Howell.
“It was great fun playing with the US Open champion, you don’t get many opportunities like that,” added Matthews, who was born in Johannesburg but moved to Wales aged two.
“Watching the way he does his job but then enjoys himself, he’s very relaxed and that’s the way I like to play the game as well.
“My caddies and I are big fans so we just put our name down.
“The draw was fantastic. One of the members at my club knows Luke from when he was a kid and he said to say hello. To then be drawn with him is excellent and I think Rhys (Davies) played a practice round with him in the US Open so we’ll have something to chat about.”
After Carnoustie, Matthews’ focus will shift to making the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team which will seek to regain the trophy against the United States at Royal County Down in September.
“Hopefully I can do enough to get in the team,” he added. “I think we’ll have a very strong team whoever they pick.
“Then I’ll go to the European Tour qualifying school in November as an amateur. If I get my tour card I’ll turn professional, if not another year in the amateur ranks.
“So many people go professional but never get the card they want and you never hear from them again. I don’t want to do that.”
Darren can still laugh at himself
Darren Clarke has been in awful form so far this season, missing seven cuts in a row and also withdrawing from two events with injury.
But the Ulsterman has clearly not lost his sense of humour.
At an event for sponsors TaylorMade on Monday evening, Clarke fielded a question from the floor about whether he looks at leaderboards during tournaments.
“The way I’ve been playing there’s no need for me to look at leaderboards,” joked the Ryder Cup star, second in the Open at Troon in 1997 and third at Lytham in 2001.
“Some of these boards are massive but they don’t often go down far enough to include my name!”
The 38-year-old could yet feature on the leaderboard at Carnoustie this week, a closing round of 66 in the Scottish Open on Sunday a sign he is returning to form.
A long wait for Ben
Another player present on Monday was England’s Benn Barham, and the 31-year-old from Kent had every reason to let his hair down before making only his second Open appearance.
Barham will be the last man to tee off in the first round on Thursday, starting at 4.21pm alongside Portugal’s Jose-Filipe Lima and Australian Terry Pilkadaris.
“I might as well keep drinking!” joked Barham. “Thursday evening seems a long time away.”
What’s happened to Hamilton?
Todd Hamilton was the last man before Tiger Woods to win the Open Championship, but it would be a brave man to bet on a repeat of the American’s shock victory at Troon.
Since defeating Ernie Els in a play-off in 2004, Hamilton has suffered a terrible slump in form, registering just one top 10 on the US Tour in 2005 and 2006.
The 41-year-old from Illinois, who also has 11 wins on the Japan Tour to his credit, has made just four cuts in 19 events in America this season and is a total of 153 over par with a scoring average of 74.26.
The stenographers who provide transcripts of the player interviews do a wonderful job, but are occasionally thrown by one or two of the more impenetrable accents.
“There was a lot written about what Jean (Van de Velde) did,” commented 1999 champion Paul Lawrie. “And rightly so. He had a 61.”
A 61? The lowest-ever round in a major by two shots? Surely someone would have noticed.
Those who actually attended Lawrie’s press conference knew different of course.
“He had a SIX TO WIN,” Lawrie had said, referring to Van de Velde needing a double bogey or less on the 72nd hole.
Edited by Phil Casey, PA Sport
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