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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
Open diary - Friday
By Our team at St Andrews

Nicklaus fiver excites fans

Jack Nicklaus and his special fiver
Jack Nicklaus proudly shows off his special five-pound note

Queue-tastic was the only way to describe the long, snaking line waiting to withdraw some of the special limited-edition Jack Nicklaus bank notes from the Royal Bank of Scotland in the tented village this morning.

"I've got two grandchildren - 17 and 19 - who are fanatical about golf so it will make a nice present. And hopefully they (the notes, not the grandchildren) will be worth a bit, too, in the future," said Barbara Morfin from Gainsborough.

But another, more selfish, use for them has also been rumbled. None other than the great man himself, the Golden Bear, was planning to use the notes to further his ambitions of making the cut in his last major.

"I'd have to get about 150 of them so I could bribe every player," said Nicklaus.

Nice to see you

Lingo Bingo players, pencils at the ready! Game caller Peter Alliss is already on song and all the ingredients for a "good game, good game" are present.

Ronnie Corbett and Bruce Forsyth were telling each other long-winded jokes, probably, in the Old Course Hotel garden on Friday.

I'm pretty sure it was them, either that or there's a very convincing "celebrity golf fan" themed stag do in town.

Hard to tell, really. I guess we'll know for sure if I see them with Jodie Kidd and Cindy Crawford at the Gin House tonight.

Diary derby

Having plundered Scott Gutschewski's musing on the "British" Open for our humble offerings on Thursday, it seemed rude not to do the same on Friday.

The American qualifier is a first-time visitor to these shores and is writing about his experiences for the PGA Tour website.

But after insulting British breakfasts and chickens on Thursday, the chunky Nebraskan is in diplomatic mode today.

It seems he is delighted that Open starter Ivor Robson got his name right first time: "It's Gut-chess-ski, not Get-your-jet-ski."

Out of sorts

John Daly is looming large on the shoulders of the Open leaders once more.

But he was conspicuous by his absence at the champions' dinner on Tuesday night.

The big-hitting American won the Open at St Andrews 10 years ago and had been expected to grace the annual black-tie do this week.

But Daly offered apologies for his absence following his round of 71 on Thursday, citing a simple reason for staying away. "They don't make suits for this big boy," he revealed.

We (still) love Lyle

Sandy Lyle
Shrewsbury Scot Sandy Lyle
So there we were, behind the 18th, bathed in evening sunshine, tucking into freshly-delivered pizzas, and all we could think about was "what haven't we done?"

We sat there for a while, as huge shadows stretched towards us, and then it hit us - "We haven't mentioned Sandy Lyle yet!"

Avid readers - our families and colleagues - of previous Open diaries will know of our love for the Shrewsbury Scot.

It's almost contractual: we're here, he's out there, mention him. So here it is - Sandy, we salute you.

Super Sandy - once again

Like buses, just when you were wondering where your next Sandy Lyle story was coming from, two hove into view at once.

This one involves two authentic sons of Scotland surveying the replica of the Claret Jug, the one loaned to the winner for a year while the original resides in the R&A.

Peering at all the famous names ingraved on the "auld" trophy over the years - Morris (Old and Young), Jones, Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and so on - they immediately spotted the one they came to see.

You've got it.

"There it is, Gordon. Ahhh, 1985. Sandwich. Sandy Lyle. Tremendous".

Moaning Maarten

Also noticed on Thursday evening was the surreal sight of players marking their balls on the 18th green so those back on the tee - 350 yards away! - could drive.

As the late groups crawled towards five and half hours out on the course, R&A officials were desperate to bring them in before nightfall - about midnight up here.

This late change led to some confusion, and totally wound up Maarten Lafeber.

His group was the first to be asked to mark and wait, and the Dutchman wasn't happy. Thankfully, his mood was restored when he rammed home his six-footer for birdie.

Men about town (part II)

There were slim pickings in St Andrews on Thursday night - anybody would think the golfers had something better to do.

In fact, the only sighting that was even remotely "show business" was former Scotland rugby star Scott Hastings.

The burly centre and sporting sibling was tucking into a bag of chips outside Lafferty's Irish pub.

Lafferty's, by the way, had been billed to us as a potential venue for live music. Hmm, they must have booked the smallest band in the world. The Chipmunks, maybe.

Roll up, roll up and take your chance

Some of the more, shall we say, less sports-minded of our politicians would be outraged to see the blatant encouragement of the competitive spirit at St Andrews.

We're not talking the 156-odd (not 156 odd, which is very different) pampered pros playing for six million quid each, either.

We're talking honest, upstanding and previously innocent members of the public being hounded to triumph over the next man.

On entering the merchandising marquee, punters are bombarded by a multitude of trade stands screaming out the word "win".

You can win almost anything golf related in here; bags, drivers, cameras, cash, 2006 Open and Ryder Cup tickets and holidays in Italy, France, Spain and er, Wales.

One thing you can't win is a cure for your new-found addiction.

BBC amateurs spotted by Sam

Sam Torrance
Pay attention please - Sam is speaking

When Sam Torrance gives you advice on golf, you listen.

Torrance gloriously led Europe to Ryder Cup victory two years ago and his father, Bob, is one of the most respected coaches in the game.

So when Sam took a short-cut between portacabins on his way to his commentary position and accidentally found himself in the middle of an unfamiliar practice ground, the players concerned looked a little sheepish.

The chipping practice was between some of the BBC technical team on a much-needed break - and Torrance was clearly impressed with what he saw.

"We'll get you boys on the TV yet," he said.

But I think he laughed out loud as he stepped into his commentary box position.

Big bloke hits the headlines

Everyone's got a macho streak, and all the beefcakes in Fife have been lining up to enter the Nikon Longest Drive Competition.

For 2 a pop, budding John Dalys can have a blast at a computer simulation of the 18th at St Andrews, all in aid of the Sparks childrens' charity.

Best so far is 327 yards, set by a "big bloke, ugly swing" on Wednesday.

In the ladies' event, the mark to beat is 240 yards, though one entrant managed 250 yards before exposing herself as a professional.

Organisers reckon the record will be broken at the weekend when the farmers turn up.

And with a raft of luminaries pledging to have a crack, such as ex-footballer Razor Ruddock, former Scottish rugby brothers Scott and Gavin Hastings and Yes frontman Rick Wakeman, stay tuned to discover the biggest-hitting celebrity at the Open.

Open diary - Thursday
14 Jul 05 |  Golf
Open diary
13 Jul 05 |  Golf
Open diary
12 Jul 05 |  Golf

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