I HAD to be up at 4 o’clock on Monday morning to catch a flight from Dublin, so that I could be on the first tee at Birkdale no later than 9 o’clock.
An hour later, I’d already interviewed three former Open Champions.
Life moves fast these days. Today I’m at the World Beach Football Championships in Marseilles.
I’ll tell you about that next week – if I can keep the sand out of my eyes!
If the wind blows off the beach at Southport this amazing stretch of natural land at Birkdale will present a stiff task, even to artists who habitually thump the ball 350 yards nowadays.
Jim Furyk comes prepared for every eventuality these days: “I got beaten up by Carnoustie a few years back, so now I pack everything in the bag. The waterproofs are the first item and I hope I don’t need them, but in this country the elements can change two or three times during the course of a round.”
Two of the young pretenders who really impressed me during practice were Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal.
Having won twice on tour this year Kaymer is in line for a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
“I know I can win golf tournaments, now I believe I’m ready to win a major title” he said confidently, but not arrogantly.
Perhaps he can win the Championship that always eluded fellow countryman Bernhard Langer.
Having held off Colin Montgomery to land the French Open title recently, Larrazabal is very much on a high.
“I know I am playing well. As a boy I used to watch Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal playing in the Open, and dream that one day it would be me. Now the dream has come true, so who’s to say I cannot win?”
Victory, by the way, is worth three-quarters of a million pounds – just a bit different to the £750 Peter Thomson took home from his win at Birkdale in 1954.