The Open Diary: More celebrity spotting as the action comes to a close

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

The 149th Open Championship concluded in thrilling fashion on Sunday as Collin Morikawa claimed the Claret Jug.

It was a fitting finale to a memorable tournament, which marked the return of fans en masse to watch golf's oldest major.

Royal St George's was bathed in sunshine for all four days and it was a joyous event for everyone in attendance.

Stats Perform's man on the ground said a fond farewell to the Kent links, but not before one last wander around the course.

SHELTER FROM THE WARM

The soaring temperatures made walking the course a test of endurance, and not everyone was keen to partake.

What few spots of shade there were soon became occupied by weary bodies, sheltering from the warmth of the sun.

The queues at the water refill points were longer than for the grandstands.

CELEB SPOTTING (TAKE TWO)

It may have been premature to share the story of a chance encounter with British comedian Michael McIntyre on Saturday, as Sunday heralded the arrival of an even bigger celebrity.

Milling around outside the entrance to the media centre, and somehow not surrounded by a large crowd of autograph hunters, was One Direction's Niall Horan.

He's a keen golf fan and can often be seen at the majors rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the sport.

FLAGGING...

At the end of a long tournament, some members of the media pack wanted a morale-boosting moment, so waited patiently for Champion Golfer of the Year Morikawa to exit from the interview room in hope of an autograph or photo.

Two had souvenir flags with Open Championship branding, in the expectation Morikawa might take the time to sign them.

He bolted through the doors carrying the Claret Jug, saw his waiting fans, but had no time to stop, telling them: "Sorry guys. Maybe I'll see you later."

Oh, the disappointment. 

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    Four-time major winner Koepka raised eyebrows when stating in an interview with Golf Digest that he finds the prestigious event "a bit odd" and "hectic".

    The former world number one revealed he finds playing in a team event difficult to adapt to, as he is unable to get into a usual routine that he would have during a major tournament.

    Azinger, who captained the USA to victory over Europe in 2008, says Koepka ought to give someone else the chance to play in Wisconsin if he is not fully committed.

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    "If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

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    "But if you don't love and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks - especially being hurt - should consider whether or not he really wants to be there."

    Azinger continued: "Brooks is one of the most candid, most honest guys there is, and if he's blatantly honest with himself and doesn't want to be there, he should come out and say it."

    The United States start their bid to regain the Ryder Cup a week on Friday.

  • Ryder Cup: Stenson named Europe's final vice-captain Ryder Cup: Stenson named Europe's final vice-captain

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    "It's a great honour to get the call and to be involved with Team Europe. I've been part of five Ryder Cup teams in the past and to be given the opportunity as a vice-captain to help Europe's quest to retain the Ryder Cup is exciting," said Stenson.

    "Padraig called me on Monday morning and it was not a long conversation. I accepted straight away and I assured him that myself, along with the other vice-captains, are there to help and assist him and the team in any way we can.

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    He knows Europe will face the full wrath of the fans in Wisconsin, particularly with COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel from Europe. 

    "Obviously when we're in the US, we are always out-numbered when it comes down to [crowds]. But this year is going to be even more," he said. "So the way you look at it, you can look at it two ways: You can feed off the energy that their crowd is going to have, and also you can feed off your good moments how they will get quiet and how you can quiet their crowds.

    "I think that's going to be important and it's going to be important for everyone to know that when the course is quiet, this is a good thing for Europe."

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