Friday, July 20, 2007

Ain't got no sweet tea, and ain't got no fried chicken.

Back home, you don't get the BBC feed of the British Open, which I fear means you missed one of the all-time great interviews.
Here are the highlights of Boo Weekley's post-round interview Friday. He's doing America proud.

Most of the best stuff is lower down, and I've highlighted it.


Q. How are you liking this kind of golf?
BOO WEEKLEY: I like it. It's very similar to how it is back home on the golf course I grew up on. It's a lot shorter than the one I grew up on, but it's firm like this and it plays pretty fast. You can bump it around the greens. You can use any club you want around the greens, which is a good thing. The putting surface here is really excellent. They're a little hard to read sometimes, but they roll real good and they're real flat.

Q. What's your impressions, you've been here a few days of the country, of the golf, of the people?
BOO WEEKLEY: The people are great. I haven't run into too many ‑‑ I'm going to leave that one alone. It's been nice getting to meet some people. The golf course is great. The atmosphere is great. It's a bigger atmosphere than I thought it would be.

Q. In what way?
BOO WEEKLEY: Just a lot more people. It's kind of like the U.S. Open back home. I knew it was the British Open and everything, but I figured the way the weather was going to be there wouldn't be that many people out. But today is a beautiful day, I almost blame them for not coming out today. But yesterday was awful.

Q. What didn't you know about Britain or Scotland before you came here?
BOO WEEKLEY: I would say my family was from here. That's all I knew. I knew it was a long way from where I grew up.

Q. Did they tell you much about it?

Q. Any background?

Q. Where exactly is your family from?
BOO WEEKLEY: I couldn't tell you that, neither. But I know they're from here, south of here, down south on the border down there, I think. That's all I know. You'll have to ask my aunt.

Q. Did you have a passport before this season?
BOO WEEKLEY: I got one right at Christmas, you know, earlier this week.

Q. A lot of people thought you had to have tattoos out there, you know that?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yeah, I've heard. I mean if I do, I've got them all the way up my leg and my back. I ain't got no tatoos.

Q. What about away from the course, the food, things like that here?
BOO WEEKLEY: It's rough. It's been rough on that food. It's different eating here than it is at the house. Ain't got no sweet tea, and ain't got no fried chicken.

Q. I thought you were a fish guy?
BOO WEEKLEY: I've been eating a lot of fish.

Q. Fried?
BOO WEEKLEY: No, they've got the guy smoking some right over here, probably some of the best you'll ever eat. Yes, sir, it was good.

Q. Arbroath Smokies, you like those?
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, yes, sir, very good.

Q. Is there anything new that's better than back home?
BOO WEEKLEY: I can't go there. (Laughter). I don't know, sir.

Q. What about driving around, is that putting you off?
BOO WEEKLEY: I ain't driving. I ain't driving nowhere.

Q. Scary?
BOO WEEKLEY: I think so. On the wrong side of the road? Yes, sir.

Q. Rumor had it that you had to smuggle in a few cans of dip because you heard they didn't have it here.
BOO WEEKLEY: I didn't smuggle a few. I brought a bunch. I think about 20‑something and my caddie brought like 30‑something.

Q. You're not going to run out, are you?
BOO WEEKLEY: Nope. Got six more to go.

Q. You have three more days.
BOO WEEKLEY: That's perfect.

Q. Did you watch any British Opens in the last say 15 years before you came here?

Q. On TV, you didn't?
BOO WEEKLEY: If I did it was flicking through it and stopping and wondering who it was or something like that, but I didn't. I don't watch golf. I watch it every now and then when my friends are playing it and stuff like that, but I don't care to watch it.

Q. There wasn't a curiosity how ‑‑ British as opposed to the PGA TOUR?

Do you know about the previous Champions and previous great players?

Q. Paul Lawrie, you apparently played with him last week?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yeah. I kind of stuck my foot in my mouth there, didn't I (laughter), but I didn't know. If you don't know, you don't know. I hated I said what I said, especially with him just saying what he said a couple of days before that, he don't get no respect. And then I say something like that, you know, it's like, wham, here's a slap in your head (laughter).

Q. Have you watched television here? What do you make of the television over here?
BOO WEEKLEY: I don't watch much TV.

You can't get the race on Sunday?

Q. Are you a NASCAR fan?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yes, sir.

Q. Are you going to St. Andrews, the home of golf, when you finish here and have a game of golf? It's only just down the road.
BOO WEEKLEY: I didn't know it was the home of golf. I thought the home of golf was where I was from (laughter).

Q. Have you developed an appetite for being abroad and playing abroad? Would you like to visit other places in Europe?
BOO WEEKLEY: I don't like to visit, I just go and do what I got to do and get home.

Q. Had you been out of the country before you went to Mexico for the CancĂșn thing?
BOO WEEKLEY: I've been to Canada once, but that ain't really like leaving.

Jim Furyk was out in some of the local pubs last night. Are you thinking about going out with a drink and mixing with some of the locals?
BOO WEEKLEY: No, probably not.

They'd love to meet you.
BOO WEEKLEY: Yeah, I'm pretty sure they would (laughter).


I've got a belly full of smokie.

It's local specialty fare, sort of the cheesesteak of a nearby town, Arbroath. The original idea dates back to the Vikings 900 years ago, according to Ian, the guy doing the actual smoking. Somehow, Arbroath became the "home of the smokie."

To cook it, they dig a pit in the ground, line it with slates and put a half barrel of whiskey in the bottom of the pit for juicy favoring. Then they take haddock, or trout, cut it, tie up the tail, spread it over a plank and cook it for 40 minutes over smoking beech or oak fire, which is covered by some sort of sackcloth. In the end, the smokie is "golden brown." Quite tasty.

I had my first smokie a couple of nights ago in a pub in Arbroath, mostly at the urging of the locals at the next table. Today, a few of us discovered some guy from Arbroath has a smokie stand not far from the media center. He served his smokie on paper plates and we all stood around eating and picking tiny fish bones out of our teeth. It's sort of like standing around Pat's in South Philly eating a cheesesteak. You can't beat it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Daly dose

You want to know the state of John Daly's life and golf game?

A few minutes ago, Big John holed out from about 100 yards out in the 11th fairway to grab the solo lead at the British Open at 5-under. On the very next hole, he lipped out a two-footer for bogey, giving it all back.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that just because Daly was the momentary leader, I wouldn't bet you $2 he hangs on to make the cut. Heck, I wouldn't even bet you $2 he makes it through 36 holes without walking off the course.

Thomson on Tiger

Here's a British Open note that got bumped from the paper...

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- If Peter Thomson knows what he’s talking about, Tiger Woods could win eight straight British Opens.

“I’m serious about it,” Thomson said this week. “If I can do three or five, then Tiger can certainly do better than that.”

Thomson, of course, is the last man to win three straight Opens (1954-56) – and the only player to do it in the modern era. He and his record are in all their glory this week at Carnoustie because Woods, with back-to-back wins at St. Andrews in 2005 and Royal Liverpool in last year, is gunning to match Thomson’s record this week.

Two other long-gone players, Jamie Anderson (1877-79) and Bob Ferguson (1882-82) won three straight Opens. But the list of twofers who fizzled going for three-in-a-row is long and impressive: Old Tom Morris, J.H. Taylor, Harry Vardon, James Braid,, Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino.

Thomson, winner of five Opens over his career, not only doesn’t count Woods out for three straight, he believes he could raise the bar to unthinkable heights – eight straight.

“I nearly went five in a row,” said Thomson, 77, a native Aussie. “The fourth one I sort of threw away, not quite the way Mickelson did, but I finished second at St. Andrews at my fourth run. And I felt I should have won that if I had been a bit smarter. But then I won the next one.”

If Woods does pull off the three-peat this week, Thomson will be there to congratulate him. “I’d be as proud to be linked with his name as with three-in-a-row.

Thomson thinks the only thing standing between Woods and eight straight is illness, desire and preparation and, potentially, weather.

Thomson also takes his hat off to Tom Watson, the only other modern-era player with five Open titles.

“He’s still walking around winning, too, I believe,” said Thomson.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Welcome to Scotland

After two days of clear skies, warm days and a light breeze at my back, I walked out of my rented house in Carnoustie this morning to be greeted by an arresting chill and a driving rain. Man, is it dreary.

So what if it's July 18th, welcome to Scotland.

I grabbed a light rain jacket but, not to be discouraged, I struck out for the golf course wearing shorts and short-sleeved golf shirt, refusing to admit that there was any chance the sun might not come out later in the day. Halfway throught the five-minute walk to the course, I was cold and wet, telling myself what a dope I am. This is what a rainy day in late October feels like at home. All around me, cheerful native Scots were bundled up in wool sweaters, pullover fleeces and rain gear.

So what. I'm from Philly. We laugh in the face of nasty weather.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ah, the Open

If I had to pick a favorite golf tournament, it would be the British Open.

I like the trip over, I've learned how to drive on the left side of the road and I like wandering the streets of the small towns and villages where the Open is usually played.

After an overnight flight, with my body clock haywire, I was up by 5 a.m. Scotland time this morning -- midnight back home. The sun was up already, so I made a cup of coffee, grabbed my camera and struck out from the house I'm sharing a few hundred yards from the course to hit the streets of Carnoustie.

I don't care where you go in the U.S., we don't have the kind of little ancient villages they have over here. By 6 a.m., a few shopkeepers were already preparing to open. Dressed in shorts, loafers with no socks and a fleece pullover, I stuck out like a sore thumb -- or a typical America.
People nodded and greeted me on the street with a cheerful hello.