CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Outside the ropes next to the 16th tee, six teenagers braved the wind and rain and waited for Sergio Garcia to play through. Standing next to each other, the giant letters on their t-shirts spelled S-E-R-G-I-O.
They’ve been following Garcia all week at Carnoustie. They are just a small chorus among the cast of thousands cheering on the Spaniard as he attempts to claim his first major title.
Waiting to play his approach to the 10th, Garcia paused while the express train to Aberdeen clattered by. Those crazy train drivers just love to honk their horns on a player’s backswing. And you don’t want that to derail you when you are protecting a lead in the British Open.
“Come on Sergio, your time has come,” yelled a fan with a Scottish accent during the lull. Garcia half smiled.
It’s not just the fans who are trailing Garcia. It’s a zoo inside the ropes, too. Had he glanced behind him as he walked down the 14th fairway, he would have seen 28 photographers, four television crews and too many reporters to count.
The roar that greeted Garcia on the first tee felt like the opening match of the Ryder Cup. And that support continued all the way to the 18th green, where the grandstands were still packed as Garcia finished and the weather closed in.
After his round, Garcia acknowledged the phenomenal support he is getting at Carnoustie.
“The British crowds are just amazing,” he said. “They support me like I was one of their own. I’m glad that I have such a good relationship with them. I’m loving it. I’m just hoping I can keep doing well and give them things to cheer for.”
Playing for the Claret Jug in the final group with American Steve Stricker, Garcia will be hoping to conjure up more of that magical Ryder Cup atmosphere.