Open golf to Olympics for all; Lytham to London

V Krishnaswamy
Published: 25, Jul 2012

V Krishnaswamy, a senior journalist has more than 30 years of experience of covering five Olympics, seven Asian Games, five Commonwealth, scores of World Championships and Majors in different sports, including chess and golf. He is also the author of the recently published “Sachin – Hundred hundreds Now”

It is almost 36 hours since I left Lytham and arrived in London. But the Open hangover won’t go away, though the Olympics are staring me in my face. Every year I look forward to the Open. And every four years I look forward to the Olympic Games. Neither disappoints me.

But first my stories at the Open and they are all feel-good kinds.

In normal circumstances Ernie Els’ sensational win over Adam Scott would have taken the place of pride. But I am afraid, Ernie, one of my favourite golfers will have to share that spot with Anirban Lahiri.

Lahiri? Yes, the Major debutant, who showed more spunk and confidence than seasoned players. He was up against a PGA Tour player in each of the four rounds and held his own. He played a bogey-free round on the first day and then landed the only ace – a hole-in-one – of the tournament on the third day. It came on the ninth hole, which very interestingly, he parred the first day, bogeyed on the second, aced on the third and birdied on the fourth! It’s the perfect debut. If only he had won, he was 500-1 and fell to 200-1, by the third day.

Lahiri finished tied 31st; it was the best-ever by an Indian Major debutant; and he went back “a better golfer” in his own words. But his best quote of the week, “I am happy because I have never seen my father smiling so much. He’s a golfaholic and loved every moment of the week and he has the ball with which I got hole-in-one.”

Ernie Els? ‘Big Easy’ was the ‘big story’ of Sunday. They say the Majors are decided on the back nine on Sunday. This time it was last four holes. While Adam Scott was self-destructing, Els was readying himself for a play-off that never happened. Scott was four up with four to go and then Els closed with a birdie on 18th, but Scott bogeyed last four in a row and his meltdown will surely become part of folklore like those of his countryman, Greg Norman.

Els, the perfect gentleman, was sympathetic towards Scott at the prize distribution ceremony and at the interaction with the media. He also spoke about how he had his autistic son, Ben, in his mind while putting and mentioned how he suddenly thought that he ought to thank Nelson Mandela in case he won.

Els will be back at Muirfield, where he won his first Open, and his last Major in 2002. And guess what? I will be back at Muirfield and I will put some money before the Open begins!

***

Time for some Olympics now:

Barcelona. Atlanta. Sydney. Athens. Beijing…. London. That’s the list of Olympics Leander Paes has been to. And me, too!

Four years ago, as I was leaving the Beijing the day after the Closing Ceremony, I saw a sign saying, “See you in London in 2012”. I told myself I would be there, too. Here I am.

Over the last few years, time and again, we have read how London could be hard pressed to deliver a great Games. But every single Press Release coming out of London always gave the impression that it was ready - as far back as a whole year ago.

But now when we land, we learn that the Security agency has fallen short by one-third of the numbers of security men they were supposed to deliver! Whoops, in an era where security men matter more than gold medal winners, that is an Olympian standard ‘boo-boo’.

The day (Monday, July 23) I arrived from Lytham, there was the rehearsal of the Opening. That day it took people as much as four and a half hours to reach the Olympic Park, when it normally takes them an hour or so. Thousands were then stranded as some tube lines were suspended for a while; routes were diverted and the unusual heat hit the tracks in certain places.

That’s not all. People who paid ages ago for tickets to the Games had to wait for hours to get their tickets. Some just didn’t. Those who did get the tickets, found that their tickets were far away from the seats allotted to their children and family even though the booking was done at the same time.

Let me add my two bits – they have given us an Oyster pass, so the tube is free! But the food is expensive and if I want chips only, then it can only be at MacDonalds. Other caterers can only sell you “Fish and Chips” as a package and not chips alone! And if you don’t have a Visa card, then you can’t even pay by card.

And yes, the Internet package for the games is 180 pounds. For that kind of money, I can buy an Internet package for a whole year at home!

More later. Like Mac, we journalists package it as “Woes and Cribs”. You can’t get them separately!

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