Olympic Club Diary

 

By PHILIP REID

McIlroy is pitch perfect

“I didn’t get any boos from the crowd,” quipped Rory McIlroy after making a decent fist of his honorary pitch ahead of the San Francisco Giants-Houston Astros baseball game at ATT Park on Tuesday night.

McIlroy’s pitch – to Giants star Sergio Romo – was well-received . . . and not just by the crowd! McIlroy met Willie Mays, considered the best all-rounder ever in baseball, at the game and left with a collection of items which included a Buster Posey bar, a Clay Hensley jersey and a bobble-head figure of himself.

Golden Bear on slow play

Jack Nicklaus pitched up at the Olympic Club yesterday and used a story against himself to highlight the issue of slow play in professional golf. “I remember I played here in ’66 and we had the USGA Gestapo, as we called them, follow you around with a watch walking behind you. They had one with every group. They go, ‘you took 33 and a half seconds to play that shot. You need to move faster’. It was a little ridiculous. But it turned out, Billy Casper won, Arnold Palmer finished second, and I finished third. We still got a good result.”

Nicklaus – who recalled been penalised a number of times in his career for slow play – isn’t a fan of painstakingly slow play on tour. He said: “I was a slow player when I played younger. I learned how to combat that . . . but I believe slow play is not a good thing for the game, even if I was one of the guys that perpetrated the thing. The problem with slow play is all the kids try to copy the pros and all the kids grow up playing slow.”

Lawrie sets some realistic targets

Peter Lawrie’s dalliance with the mini-tours in the US in the fledgling stage of his professional career seems a million miles away from the hoopla that is part and parcel of the US Open, where the Dubliner is primed for a debut appearance.

“I’d be foolish to think in my first US Open I could come in and win it,” confessed Lawrie, some 14 years on since he cut his teeth on the mini-tour in Florida. “That’s not really my goal. My agenda is not just to come here and make the cut, my agenda is to come here and play as well as I have been. If that happens, I’d give myself a chance.”

Lawrie, who got fed up watching the US Open on television, decided to try to qualify this year and came through a play-off at Walton Heath to book his ticket. “I’ve kind of felt watching it on TV, ‘jeez, I should be there and I’m not’. But now I’ve my chance to actually play in it and I feel like I’m justifiably here.”

He added: “You have to be is patient. I’m going to have to plod along and play each hole, forget about whether you’re under or over par. It’s a case of trying to stick around par and not to be too distracted if you’re a couple over as it won’t be the end of the world.”

There is a precedent for a qualifier emerging from qualifying at Walton Heath and going on to win the US Open: New Zealander Michael Campbell took that route to his only Major win at Pinehurst in 2005.

Another sell-out for the four days

Tickets for this 112th US Open are like gold dust, with a sell-out crowd for the 26th straight year. Crowds have been capped at 33,500 for each of the four competition days.