Open Championship Officials Relieved After Favorable Weather Forecast At Royal Lytham
Open Championship officials will have "breathed a collective sigh of relief" after an improved forecast eased fears that the weather could play havoc with the 141st tournament, according to Ed Hawkins of the LONDON TIMES. A number of bunkers at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s course have been "causing concern" following rain. However, clear skies "are now expected" for the first two days after meteorologists had initially predicted thunderstorms. R&A Championship Committee Chair Jim McArthur said, “The course is at the moment perfectly playable thanks to the huge and time-consuming efforts of the greenkeeping staff. The greens are fine. They’re a bit soft and a bit slower than we’d probably like at this stage of the Championship.” Bunkers on the 2nd and 14th holes were "in danger of flooding" while sand traps on 16th and 17th "resembled ponds" (LONDON TIMES, 7/18). The BBC's Phil Goodlad reported that while Tiger Woods called the rough "almost unplayable" and defending champion Darren Clarke said it was "brutal," Richie Ramsay described the course as "perfect" (BBC, 7/18).
NO HOMECOMING: The PA reported that the chances of Northern Ireland's Clarke, Rory McIlroy or Graeme McDowell adding to their major collections on home soil "suffered a heavy blow" on Wednesday when Royal Portrush warned not to "expect anything imminent" on its hopes of staging the Open. A successful staging of this year's Irish Open at Portrush was "expected to boost hopes of the Open returning to the venue for the first time since '51." But the R&A CEO Peter Dawson "put a dampener" on those expectations, revealing a lot of hard work and "a huge amount" of money still needs to be spent. Dawson said, "A huge amount of money would need to be spent to make Royal Portrush a sensible choice. That's not a criticism of Royal Portrush; it's a wonderful golf course, but the commercial aspects of it are quite onerous" (PA, 7/18).
PHONE ZONES: In London, Mark Tallentire reported that Open Championship organizers R&A will "revisit a new policy allowing spectators to use mobile phones" on parts of the Royal Lytham course "if it causes problems for the players." Mobile phones were banned from Open courses after the 2006 Championship at Hoylake, where Woods and playing partner Sergio Garcia were "frequently disturbed by amateur photographers, many of them using mobile-phone cameras." This year's Open will be the first since then at which mobile phone use will be permitted in "special zones"(GUARDIAN, 7/18).