An albatross ace for Brandt Snedeker
By DOUG FERGUSON
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) Playing alone on Royal Lytham & St. Annes late Wednesday afternoon, Brandt Snedeker hit an iron to the fairway on the 336-yard 16th hole. He then took out a driver to get an idea of the best line off the tee in case he wanted to get aggressive on the par 4 in the British Open.
"There were not many people out there, about six people," Snedeker said. "By the time I got to my first ball to hit my wedge from the fairway, they were clapping by the green. I said, `What are you clapping for?' They said, `You made a hole-in-one.' I couldn't believe it."
It was an albatross and an ace, all in one shot, even though it didn't count on two occasions - it was his second ball, and it was only a practice round.
No matter. Snedeker was thrilled.
"I didn't see it go in," he said. "They said it was nothing out of the ordinary, just rolled in the middle of the hole."
It was the second hole-in-one on a par 4 at a major this year during the practice round. At Olympic Club for the U.S. Open, Alvaro Quiros of Spain made an ace on the 288-yard seventh hole. But there was one big difference. A camera had been stationed behind the seventh green at Olympic and captured the big moment.
No such video for Snedeker, just a moment he won't soon forget.
"I was just trying to get a line where to hit driver," Snedeker said. Walking off the green, he turned to caddie Scott Vail and said, "I think we got the line."
As for the memento? That belongs to a lucky English lad who happened to be watching.
"I signed the ball and gave it to a kid," Snedeker said.
QUITE SECURE: The G4S security group is under barrage for its failure to recruit enough people to guard the Olympics. But the company had no problem staffing the British Open.
Open officials said Wednesday that about 150 workers from the private security company are at the Open, providing gate entry guards and other workers for the tournament as they have for many years.
"The numbers that myself and my team asked for are all here," said Johnnie Cole Hamilton, executive director of championships for the Royal & Ancient, which runs the Open. "We have no issue whatsoever with the group force coverage of the golf course."
The G4S group disclosed two weeks before the start of the Olympics that it failed to recruit enough workers, forcing organizers to call in 3,500 extra soldiers and police from various forces to fill the gaps.
G4S said it expects to lose between $54 million and $78 million on the Olympic contract, equal to about 12 percent of its annual profit.
The failure to provide enough Olympic workers infuriated British lawmakers, one of whom called it a "humiliating shambles" for the country.
MOBILE PHONES: Tiger Woods' last win at the British Open was well-documented - not just on television and print or even history books, but through thousands of cellphones used to take pictures at Royal Liverpool in 2006. The Royal & Ancient was furious at the number of pictures that were taken because of the distraction to the Woods and Sergio Garcia and just about every shot.
This is the mobile era, and the R&A has joined the ranks of tournaments that now allow mobile phones. Several signs across Royal Lytham & St. Annes tell spectators that phones are to remain on silent and no photos are allowed.
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said he was more curious than nervous about how it will work when the Open begins Thursday.
"We banned mobile phones after the `06 Open with a pretty heavy heart, actually, because we do know that they're very useful tools for many people who have become entirely accustomed to having them alongside themselves," Dawson said. "But we did have the bad experience at Hoylake, and that's what caused it. Now we're reversing that policy in as controlled a manner as we are able.
"And I'm very hopeful that the great British public will respond and give consideration for the players."
Dawson said if the policy fails, the R&A would decide whether to allow them again. But all indications are phones are here to stay. The R&A is going mobile to enhance the experience for spectators on and off the golf course. Various applications allow fans to watch BBC's domestic coverage, and eventually, spectators in the grandstands might be able to watch the Open on mobile devices, which would allow them to keep track of what's going on beyond a leaderboard.
WILD WEATHER: Geoff Ogilvy wasn't planning on much practice Wednesday. And he certainly didn't expect to be in anything but a rain suit.
"The house we were in sounded like it was going to blow over," Ogilvy said.
Typical of this week, he arrived at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to find a blue sky and plenty of sunshine.
Ogilvy hasn't completely abandoned looking at the forecast, though he only uses it for practice rounds to figure out what to wear - how many layers of clothes if it's going to be chilling, whether to put on a sweater or rain jacket if it's cloudy.
"I look at it purely for what clothes to wear," he said. "And a passing interest in the wind direction."
That can change, too.
DIVOTS: Last time at Lytham, Ian Woosnam's birdie 2 quickly turned into a bogey 4 after the par-3 opening hole when he discovered he had 15 clubs in his bag. That probably won't happen now. The R&A has a walking rules official with each group, and he has been asked to check with caddies on the first tee to make sure they have no more than the 14 clubs allowed in the bag. ... Despite the wacky weather, attendance hasn't suffered. The R&A says the practice sessions have attracted 33,600 fans, up from 31,000 fans from 2001. ... R&A chief executive Peter Dawson says there are no plans to honor Seve Ballesteros, a two-time winner at Lytham who died in May 2011. "Although we remember him with great fondness and especially here at Royal Lytham, we think we did the remembrance last year."
Updated July 18, 2012