18 July 2008

Dyson cleans his act after quintuple-bogey nightmare at the 10th

AT 6.20am when they came to the tee, the rain, which had been drilling down since daybreak and had already soaked them on the practice ground, was almost over. Simon Dyson, Craig Parry and Lucas Glover were to be the first group out in the Open. They thought it would get better. They were wrong.

How fresh and bold and ready they seemed. Dyson, 30, jumped on the spot, a whip-lean six- footer in black weatherproofs, his ginger-blond hair under an optimistic white sun visor.

Beside him 28-year-old Glover gave practice swishes with his driver, a 6ft 2in, black-clad symbol of best South Carolina beef. They awaited 42-year-old Parry, 5ft 6in of truck-shaped Australian experience. They call him ‘Popeye’ but what we got yesterday was a white-suited, woolly-hatted Michelin Man.

How Parry could even swing the club in that outfit was a miracle. Someone tittered as he waddled up the first but he, like Dyson, was up and down from the bunker while it was Glover who three-putted to drop the first shot of the day. Sure Parry bogeyed holes against the wind, but everyone was doing that. Yet his short game was good and solid however much the storm blew and the rain returned. Long before he got to the turn at just three over par, he looked a good example of the maxim “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.

It was a truth which appeared to be unhappily lost on Dyson. His grandfather, ‘Ginger’ Dyson, was a jockey, his father, John, a rails bookie, and uncle Terry was in the Spurs ‘Double’ team of 1960-61. All three of them would have been used to plying their trade in inclement conditions. All three could have told Dyson not to take his jacket off after the first.

In fact, Simon got to the short fourth at just one over and with a good chance of a birdie. There was a chirpy, quick-moving brightness about him as he lined up the putt with a club so short it looked as if it had been borrowed from a 10-year-old. But the putt ran well past. He missed the return. And then the rain came.

It was soon so bad that after driving down the fifth fairway, Glover crouched on the ground tucked in behind his umbrella as if huddled in a tent against a blizzard on the South Col. Two consecutive birdies suggested he might be on to something. But Dyson comes from Yorkshire; he wasn’t playing badly, he was just looking cold. By the time he came up the ninth he was absolutely purple with it. You wanted an auntie to run out of the crowd with a warm coat and a cup of hot Bovril. But after the next two holes, it was too late even for that.

The double-bogey at the ninth was a matter of putts rolling through, but at the 10th the roof or rather, the furze fell in. It had been a clean enough drive and, even if the wind took the second shot on to the short bushes on the bank, the situation was not untenable. Ten minutes later, after a truly catastrophic quintuple-bogey – if there is such a thing – nine, it most certainly was.

It was like a tragic, shortened, golfing version of that coiled-spring kids’ toy that snakes its way down the stairs. Dyson hit and the ball shifted six inches down the bank. He hit again and it did the same thing. And again and again. Someone should have stopped him. As a top pro, he, of course, denied it afterwards, but it was as if the red mist had descended. Now there was ‘+11’ next to his name.

To his eternal credit Dyson never looked like quitting even though afterwards he would not condemn Sandy Lyle for doing just that. With splendid application Dyson buckled down to outplay his two rivals over the closing six holes and show just how good a golfer he is and could yet become.

However, when he finally came before us to brave out his ordeal you could not have blamed him for remembering the name of his breakthrough win in 2006 – it was the ‘Enjoy Jakarta Indonesian Open’.

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