By DOUG FERGUSON
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Boo Weekley brought his backwoods charm to Britain, and already committed a faux pas.
Only it had more to do with history than culture.
Weekley says he doesn’t pay attention to golf when he’s not playing, and he made that abundantly clear last week while playing with Paul Lawrie at the Scottish Open.
Weekley, who grew up in the Florida Panhandle, was delighted to have qualified for his first British Open through a money list for PGA Tour players. So he was happy to hear that Lawrie would be going to Carnoustie, too.
“I asked him, ‘How’d you get in? You qualify?”’ Weekley said in his syrupy drawl.
Lawrie won the British Open in 1999 the last time it was held at Carnoustie, setting a major championship record with a 10-shot comeback on the final round, helped mightily by the famous collapse by Jean Van de Velde on the 72nd hole.
British Open champions are eligible through their 65th birthday.
Lawrie is often overlooked because of Van de Velde’s follies, making triple bogey on the final hole to blow a three-shot lead. Then again, Weekley had a quizzical look when someone mentioned Van de Velde.
“Who?” he said.
He slowly shook his head, as if trying to recall the name of someone who went to kindergarten with him.
“What did he do?” Weekley said.
Reporters were halfway through the memorable shot sequence when they gave up.
The trip otherwise has been uneventful for Weekley, although no way is he getting behind the wheel of a car – not on the wrong side of the road, and with cars coming mighty fast in the other direction.
“I ain’t driving. Nooooo,” Weekley said. “These people over here, they all drive like Mario Andretti. They drive way to fast.”
WILL TRAVEL, NEED CLUBS: Lucas Glover missed qualifying for the British Open, but headed over to Carnoustie as the first alternate, hopeful someone would drop out. He strolled casually onto the grounds Monday wearing blue jeans, apparently unaware that Shingo Katayama had withdrawn with back and knee injuries.
“I’m on the bubble,” Glover said.
Actually, you’re in.
“Really?” Glover replied.
That was the good news. His more immediate concern was locating his clubs, which failed to make it on his flight from the United States.
He wasn’t alone, either.
Masters champion Zach Johnson couldn’t practice Monday for the same reason. Ditto for Pat Perez and Carl Pettersson, who were on the same flight with Glover. And then there was Justin Leonard, who arrived on Sunday after a week off. His clubs had still not arrived by Monday afternoon, and the airline wasn’t sure where they were.
“We just made him a new set, too,” Nike manager Kel Devlin said.
CHANNEL SURFING: Tiger Woods often says the best part about being home is knowing all the channels on his remote control.
He didn’t have to take much of a crash course when he arrived at the house he is renting in Carnoustie.
“No cable,” Woods said. “We have five channels. They had one show about vegetables. They were giving out ribbons for brussel sprouts.”
OPEN PROMOTER: Ben Curtis has a clothing endorsement with Reebok to wear NFL logos of the cities where he plays, which would seem to give him a choice at the British Open.
But the former champion had the New York Giants logo on Sunday, and the Miami Dolphins on Monday.
That’s no accident.
The Giants and Dolphins will play the first regular season NFL game in Europe next month, and Curtis said Reebok asked him to wear those teams to help promote the game.
“I’m the promoter,” the unassuming Curtis said. “I’m the Don King of the NFL in Europe.”
O’HAIR RAISING: Sean O’Hair made his British Open debut in 2005 by winning the John Deere Classic, scrambling to get a passport and arriving just in time to play at St. Andrews.
It’s been a different kind of hectic this time.
O’Hair got a virus in the final round of the AT&T National at Congressional that caused him to lose seven pounds, although he still closed with a 68 and tied for 25th. He then had to skip the John Deere Classic because doctors found a cyst under the nose his 6-month-old son, Luke. The surgery to remove the cyst was last week, and O’Hair said the boy was doing fine.
The best news was to find Carnoustie wasn’t nearly as bad as he expected, especially after watching in on TV in 1999.
“I was expecting a lot more rough,” he said. “I heard it was real nasty. But I think it’s one of the greatest courses in the world.”
LEAVE THE LIGHT ON: Peter Thomson has noticed several changes in the 50-plus years he has been at the British Open, from the course conditions to qualifying procedures to equipment – even the accommodations.
“It was very difficult to get a room,” said Thomson, a five-time Open champion. “We stayed in the Station Hotel up the road there somewhere, north of here. And of course, the London Express used to come through and the whole place would rattle.”
Thomson recalls in 1953 that a French player named Jean needed a place to stay. Roberto de Vicenzo offered the Frenchman to stay in his room, but none of the rooms had a bathroom. Guests had to go down a corridor to the public restroom.
“I had to get up at night and go down the corridor,” Thomson said. “I stepped out of the room and here is a body with his back to the wall and his head down and his feet stretched out in the corridor, stark naked. I looked and it was Jean. He’d gone out of the room, and unfortunately, the latch must have locked the room because he couldn’t get in without waking Roberto.”
Thomson suspects the lack of rooms is why Carnoustie went 24 years (1975 to 1999) without the British Open. And there’s a message in there for the 156 players at Carnoustie this week.
“The players of today are really spoiled,” he said. “And they’ve got to know that.”