The British Open 2006-Lytham St. Annes UK

My player this week is Marie-Josée Rouleau

Monday: The Crowne Plaza at the Geneva airport was our choice of accommodations for last night with a 7 AM flight scheduled. Arrived on time but our next hurdle was a tad more challenging. No transportation for caddies was promised and plans for a two hour train ride (for Chad and I) was in the works. Luckily, Michelle Redman was on our flight and sweet-talked the driver into finding room. It was still touch and go till flight delays left two empty seats. Saved us plenty of hassle with the door-to-door service. Most caddies and some players were not so fortunate. Cab rides (for the impatient) ran up to £100 ($200 US) but the train only £17. Still had to take a cab to the hotel if rail was your choice of transport.

Arrived around 1 PM, settled into The Langdales Hotel, waited for the persistent showers to abate then strolled to the course. 15 minutes I arrived at the gates of St. Annes. I was still without a loop but ran into Stephania Croche who said her friend just qualified. She promised to put in a good word so I purchased a yardage book and headed out. This wasn’t a sure thing but sounded promising.

Tuesday: As I said, it wasn’t a sure thing as I never saw Stephania again but another job opened as word of pending withdrawals floated about. Marie-Josée Rouleau (know as as M. J. to all) was the first alternate and was assured she was in. The caddie network snagged me the bag and a 12:40 practice time was scheduled.

In the mean time, another pressing matter needed to be attended to. My filthy laundry was piling up and word of a self-serve establishment near the course peaked my interest. Hauling my dirty duds was worth the effort as the time between getting work and actually working was the perfect for executing this weekly chore.

Will this ever end? A twenty minute delay along with a five hour practice round amounted to one heck of a long day. The incessant gusting winds blowing off the Irish Sea, combined with sun-baked fairways, made this true links course a real bear. At one point, a divot, giving its best impersonation of  a tumbleweed, rolled past us on the thirteenth attesting to the ferocity of the wind.

Wednesday: It was pro-am day and a very unusual one indeed. A two net best ball with a 9 AM shotgun start, coupled with stronger winds than yesterday and intermittent showers, made for another brutal day. The British are known for for their stick-to-itiveness but Natalie Gulbis’ group packed it in after nine. They’d rather drink than play one more shot. A shotgun practice round was also on tap in the afternoon for those in need of another look which included yours truly.

We managed to play ten holes till another sideways rain pummeled those left on the course. We stuck it out for a couple more and called it quits. To give you an idea of the gale strength wind, we nutted a three wood dead into the wind on the fourth hole and it only carried 160 yards!

  • There’s no crying in golf; Best name in the field? Lotta Wahlin.

  • Twist of fate; If you’re wondering, M. J. plays the Futures Tour purely as a result of a breach of the rules. She finished 13th in the last LET tour school but an incorrect drop had her disqualified.

Thursday: An absolutely glorious day! Bright sunshine, clear skies and la light breeze discounted most of the hard work put in during the practice rounds. Unfortunately, that was for the morning “games” and we were in the afternoon. The wind stiffened and it was a tough go-round for us. M. J. played superbly till the last two holes. Finished with an order from IN-N-OUT Burger. Double-double!

  • Full English; Fried bread, link sausage, ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and black pudding are all or part of the full English breakfast (depending on what’s available) served at almost every hotel and B&B. Tried it all and, contrary to most people’s taste, found the black pudding quite tasty.

  • Fun time; Wetherspoon’s seems to be thee place for players and caderos to wind down after toiling about the links. Just so happened to find a group the other day doing just that.

I’m not the only one with a camera.

  • Real bummer! For Kris Tamulis, Tuesday was a day to forget. Her iPod stopped working, her new laptop had an unrecoverable error and someone (name to be withheld for fear of ridicule) ate a piece of her naan from her dinner plate while she was taking a restroom break. The electronic foibles were tolerable but the snatching of the naan sent her over the edge.

Should have stayed in bed.

  • I’m trapped! A little practice may go a long way. M. J. gets a feel of what it’s like to be in many of the sod-walled bunkers during Wednesday’s practice round.

No problemo.

  • Can you hear me now? Feeling under the weather lately? You may be toting around your own little Petri dish full of little nasties. Read about it here.

Friday: Mucho problemos! Too many errant shots led to a +8 for the day and we get the weekend off. My streak of making all the cuts in this year’s Majors has come to an end.

Saturday: Another portion of black pudding for breakfast perked my taste buds as word of some caddie changes surfaced through out the dining room. Just seems to happen that way around a Major. A couple top players and a few lesser-known are on the rumor list including Lorena Ochoa (after next week) Meena Lee, Candy Hannemann, Young Kim and Soo-Yun Kang. 

  • The grass is greener…; We heard of an unusual drinking establishment just down the road in Lytham and had to give it a go. The Taps is a traditional no-nonsense English pub with none of the accoutrements such as food, music, video trivia, billiards and the like. You come there to drink and socialize in what may be one of the best institution of its kind. As an added touch to honor The Open, a layer of real sod was placed over the original wooden flooring to resemble a fairway! Where else would you find that?

  • Just shoot me! I thought our double-double finish on Thursday was a disappointment but Morgan Pressel’s quad-triple yesterday had to be devastating. From -1 to +6 in two holes just rips your heart out.

  • Let me in! One veteran looper failed to heed her hotel’s late night policy (after 11:30 you better have the key) and was locked out last night. Luckily, a compadre saved he day and had some extra floor space to sack out on.

  • Sneak attack; Earlier in the week, Mi Hyun Kim and Young Jo were accosted just across the street from our hotel in Ashton Gardens. Some young toughs taunted them with racial slurs and pelted apples their way. Guess who won’t be coming back to “Jolly Ole England”?

  • The arrogance of fame; When asked to leave the putting green this morning while using his cell phone, the coach of the player known for her pink attire told one of the caderos “Don’t you know anything about golf?” (in other words, Don’t you know who I am?) then parted with a “F#@k off!”.

Sunday:  I’m scheduled to be on the six o’clock bus and it looks like all the earlier transports are filled. Looks like a long day at the course is ahead.

  • You’re out a here; That’s what Greg, Donna, Dana and Zack were told when returning to their hotel  yesterday. Seems the promise of a room though the end of the week was unfulfilled. Took a couple hours to find another place but at $100 a head.

  • Row ,row, row, your boat…; Heard the new event in Thailand, held at The Amata Spring C. C. on the Royal Trophy Course, has a feature never experience on the LPGA Tour. The floating green on the seventeenth will offer an unusual challenge for golfers and  aquaphobiacs alike.

  • Bad juju on Jeju; Also heard a new venue for the Korean event is being sought as a return to Nine Bridges on Jeju Island is a no-go.

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