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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Open diary
By Rob Hodgetts and Matt Slater
BBC Sport at Hoylake


John Daly
Daly lives up to his rock n' roll reputation down at The Cavern
Tuesday night at the Open is traditionally the last chance for frivolity until the cut is made on Friday (as it brings a later wake-up call on Saturday).

The two most sought-after Tuesday invites at Hoylake this week were "Long" John Daly performing at Liverpool's famous Cavern Club and the Association of Golf Writers' annual dinner. Our invites to these events must have got lost in the post.

Daly, however, is reported to have gripped it and ripped it at The Beatles' old haunt, the highlight being a golf-inspired version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door".

No rendition of the clubhouse classic "All My Exes Wear Rolexes", though.

John Daly next to a statue of John Lennon
It seems Daly's mullet could be based on John Lennon's barnet
Course architect Donald Steel, who modernised Royal Liverpool's links a few years back, apparently did an excellent turn of his own at the AGW dinner.

All of which has got us in the newly-formed Royal Order of Golf Editors and Reporters (Roger) thinking who we should invite to be our keynote speaker at our first luncheon at the Open Arms on Thursday.


We would love it to be diary favourite Jesper Parnevik.

The super Swede is now just a dodgy curry/bad back/case of sun stroke away from joining the field for the 135th Open.

With Trevor Immelman pulling out overnight to be at the birth of his first child, Parnevik, who has almost won this event twice, is now top of the list of Open Championship reserves.

He, and his band of comedy mask-wearing supporters, would be welcome additions.

The 41-year-old missed the cut in his last three events on the US Tour and was in the middle of a long holiday in his native Sweden when he got the call on Tuesday evening.

"I haven't hit a ball for five weeks so the first thing I did last night was go to hit a bucket of balls and check if it was still there," he said.

"The first few balls were not too pretty. I topped it and I actually couldn't get the first 10 shots off the ground but after a while it came back."


Ground staff attempt to quench the Hoylake desert
Most of you will have noticed by now that it is pretty warm in our little corner of the world at the moment, what with it being summer and all.

And the rest of you will have been told this by some other arm of the British media and will now be taking your own precautions based on their advice - wearing fewer clothes, staying in the shade, not running about so much.

So this diary is not going to burden you further with life-saving tips on how to survive in temperatures hotter than the Philippines/Fill in your own hot place here.

But what we will tell you is that the unseasonally seasonal weather has turned Hoylake's rough into tinder.

The fire risk is so serious here that the R&A and local fire services are believed to be considering a smoking ban at the course.

This happened at a recent golf tournament in the US. But eyebrows were raised there when it appeared the ban only applied to paying punters, not paid participants.

If a ban is brought in here this week, the eyes of all nicotine-starved watchers will be on the likes of Darren Clarke and John Daly - two of the game's most celebrated smokers.


After exclusively revealing that Hollywood A-listers George Clooney, Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis are now regulars at The Ship in Hoylake with their own tankards behind the bar, we can confirm that there are more stars per square inch in the aforementioned boozer than at the Oscars.

Robbie Williams is the latest to have allegedly supped ale in Hoylake's very own Stella Street.


Tiger Woods
As usual, all eyes are on Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, of course, is the story at whatever tournament he plays in until something else really remarkable happens, like him not winning it.

One of the most common pre-Open parlour games in the press tent is the quest to find where the 10-time major winner is staying for the week.

This year the quest has been slightly more interesting than usual as Hoylake is not known for its Las Vegas-like hotel room capacity.

Bertie's unofficial Open drinking game
In fact, a perceived lack of beds is one of the reasons often given for the course losing its place on the Open rotation for 39 years.

Peter Thomson, the five-time Open champion, remembers being forced to stay in a "hotel not worthy of the name" when he won here in 1956, and then scrambling for a room in a house "full of South Africans" when he returned in 1967.

But now that New Labour has decreed everyone in Britain must have a decent gastropub and boutique hotel within 30 minutes' drive of their house there are plenty of decent places for today's millionaire golfer. Or so we thought.

This year's Tiger trail goes something like this. First, he was rumoured to have booked all of Liverpool's Hope St Hotel.

Then, he was reported to have hired the entire Hillbark Hotel in Royden Park. That didn't pan out for Team Tiger either.

After that it was suggested he was bedding down at Michael Owen's Wirral residence. And then it emerged that no, he had in fact hired the Isle of Man and was planning to helicopter in every day.

I fully expect to be able to reveal on Thursday that he has since moved one island westward and has actually hired all of Ireland for the rest of the week. And if he doesn't like that he might as well go home and commute from Florida.

FALDO V WOODS (Round two)

Nick Faldo
Faldo cools down from heated words with an ice cream
Perhaps the biggest story of the practice days at Royal Liverpool has been the verbal sparring between two of golf's biggest names, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.

For those of you who may have missed the origins of this tete a tete, Faldo gave the American superstar a free critique of his swing on US television 18 months ago.

Did Woods not like that. He has since got back at the Englishman by smashing golf balls past his on the driving range and growling at him.

Kind words and Christmas cards have been suspended ever since.

Now fate and the R&A have brought these two lovebirds together again, putting them in the same three-ball for the first two days at the Open (possibly the funniest golf gag since Bob Hope's heyday).

Both have given press conferences up here in the last two days that if they were attempts to defuse the situation can only be described as explosive failures.

The Englishman took an early lead in the pre-tournament phoney war by saying he wasn't looking forward to playing with the world number one and sounding rather less than contrite about the commentary that started all this.

Woods then hit back with an almost perfect display of petulance in his press conference on Tuesday - the pay-off line being a one-word answer of "surprised" to the question "how will you feel if Nick tries to talk to you on Thursday?"

But Faldo was not going to let Woods steal a march in the quote stakes and almost immediately retook the initiative with his own statement of surprise.

When asked if he thought we could see a surprise this week, Faldo said: "No, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a surprising winner or to have a surprise here. I wouldn't be surprised at all. No surprise!"


The ground staff tend to a very dry and frazzled Hoylake
The ground staff tend to a very dry and frazzled Hoylake
Sizzling temperatures have dried the Hoylake course to the bone and fanned the flames on the hot topic of its ability to stand up as a test of modern of golf.

Some commentators are predicting that with little wind, and only light rough, the fast-running course will be defenceless and players will "take it apart", to coin a well-used phrase doing the rounds here. Not that the final score really matters, of course.

The lack of wind can't be helped, but the recent heatwave has caused the rough to retreat. And worried organisers, desperate to preserve a modicum of hazard, have ticked off wandering marshals for straying too far from the ropes, trampling down the last-remaining "thick stuff".

One red-faced marshal, in matching official-issue scarlet jacket, complained: "We were only on the edge."



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