Has Baker-Finch banished his ghosts?

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In 1997 when he shot a 92 in the opening round of the Open, a red-faced Ian Baker-Finch quit golf with his game in tatters.

In 1997 when he shot a 92 in the opening round of the Open, a red-faced Ian Baker-Finch quit golf with his game in tatters.

On Thursday he had another stab at it – and was beaming with delight afterwards

At the time he quit, 48-year-old Baker-Finch should have been at the peak of what had looked to be a highly promising career. When he won his Open title in 1991, it looked as if the sky was now the limit.

Instead, his skill and ability seemed to disappear every time he teed off in a professional event.

Nobody, least of all the former Open Champion himself, could understand why he could hit the ball well at practice, but then fell apart when ever he played in pro competitions and after missing 29 straight cuts and shooting that disastrous 92, he abruptly quit playing golf and turned to TV for a living.

Today he is a widely respected CBS analyst but his good form on the course in social outings in recent times has, it seems, prompted him to have another crack at the big time.

It was his victory at the Colonial in 1989 that gained him his exemption in to the Crown Plaza Invitational at the Colonial here this week.

And what a difference time can make!

All the old ghosts that had haunted him seemed to have disappeared.

Baker-Finch, who friends believe may be eyeing a new career in senior golf, needed just 26 putts in a round that included five birdies and three bogeys to finish tied for 24th with players of the calibre of fellow Australian Adam Scott and American Ryder Cup star Jim Furyk.

All the world will now be hoping that the likable Australian will shoot another three rounds that keep him smiling as broadly as this first one did.

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