THE practice is over and it’s down to the serious business as the eyes of the sporting world focus on the Fylde.
The competitive action at the 141st Open got underway today, with the world’s top golfers aiming to be crowned champion in front of thousands of fans at Royal Lytham and St Annes and millions on TV worldwide.
Three teenage members of Fairhaven have swapped practice time details for running score updates as they man a prominently-placed scoreboard close to the main entrance to the course.
Johnny Adams, 17, from Lytham and 16-year-olds Antony Causer from North Shore and Ben Carter from St Annes applied for the opportunity through their club as long ago as last September and are thrilled to be in the thick of the action at the world’s greatest tournament.
“We have already seen Tiger Woods in practice, now we hope to catch Rory McIlroy in action – we all enjoy watching him play,” said Johnny, who plays off 14 at Fairhaven and attends college in Preston.
Antony and Ben both play off nine and the trio regularly play together as junior members at Fairhaven and are among 100 scorers on duty at the course, making sure the thousands of fans attending the Open are kept fully up to date as the action builds to a climax on Sunday.
Crowds have steadily been building at the course during the four practice days ahead of today’s start to the four days of competitive action, which saw England’s Barry Lane and American James Driscoll the first pair off the tee at 6.19am.
Brilliant sunshine greeted the fans who attended the final practice day, all enjoying the wide range of facilities and many clamouring for autographs around the putting practice area.
Some 200,000 visitors are flocking to the Fylde for the tournament’s first appearance at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 11 years.
Statistics from organisers the R&A claims that over the coming days, more than 85,000 pints of beer will be poured, 40,000 cups of tea and coffee will be drunk and 33,000 portions of chips, 20,000 sandwiches and 11,000 chocolate bars will be consumed.
More than 1,500 catering staff are on duty at the course along with 1,100 marshalls – many of them members of Fylde golf clubs – and 1,300 TV personnel, relaying more than 3,600 hours of total coverage to a potential household audience of 458m people in 196 worldwide territies.