Golf: Mobile phones get thumbs up, but celebrity caddies irk Dawson
MOBILE phones will almost certainly be permitted on the course at next year’s Open at Muirfield after the R&A’s “big risk” in lifting a ban on them at Lytham didn’t backfire.
While stewards were constantly seen having to remind spectators not to use their phones as cameras, particularly those following Tiger Woods, officials reckoned the decision to do a U-turn after a ban was introduced following problems at Hoylake in 2006 had been justified.
“We took a big risk introducing mobile phones back into the Open Championship,” admitted Jim McArthur, the championship committee chairman. “We judged that the golfing public would support us and I think they generally have.
“We’ve had very few [negative] reports on mobile phones. There’s nothing I know of that would make us change our mind at the moment.”
The R&A was also pleased to report that slow play had not proved an issue.
Players had been warned before the event about the crackdown on the problem and, though the final group on Sunday, involving Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell, finished ten minutes over the permitted three hours and 45 minutes, in general speed of play had proved “satisfying” to officials.
“I think it was the best from a pace of play standpoint in ten or 12 years,” admitted R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.
Joining issues such as mobile phones and slow play on the championship committee’s agenda in the future is likely to be the use of celebrity caddies. It follows the decision by Argentinean Andres Romero to ask Carlos Tevez, the Manchester City striker, to caddie for him in the final round on Sunday.
“It’s not for me to say anything about players’ choice of caddie, as long as they behave in the best traditions of the Championship and within the rules,” said Dawson in reply to being asked if Romero had, effectively, turned the event into a circus.
However, the fact he then made what could only be construed as a sarcastic reference to the player carding a 12-over-par 82 to finish in last place among the 83 qualifiers was a clear message of what he actually thought about it.
In mulling over a championship which will leave the R&A with a “fairly high cost restoration” due to the damage caused by rain and footfall on the course, Dawson was also asked if any action would be taken against Woods for swearing during the second round.
On the 11th tee, the 14-time major winner, who finished joint-third, was heard shouting, “mother f*****”, after hitting a wayward shot. It was said within earshot of a female spectator, who said: “Charming”.
“I didn’t actually hear that personally,” said Dawson. “It’s the first time it’s been raised with me so I’m not going to give an off-the-cuff answer. I’ll have to look at that.”
If Woods, who was fined for spitting in Dubai last year, is found to have been in breach of discipline, the matter will be referred to the PGA Tour to deal with.
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