CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — British legend has it that the first player you spot on your way to a tournament or at the course will be the champion come Sunday evening. It’s a dead-certain, nailed-on, fool-proof bet, right? OK, it’s nonsense, but you know you’ll do it the next time you’re at a tournament. Here’s a straw poll of clairvoyant media types at Carnoustie.
Jamie Corrigan, The London Independent
Champ: Jerry Kelly
Spotted: Wandering behind the clubhouse last Saturday, Kelly asked: “Hey buddy, where’s the locker room?”
Neil Mclemon, The London Daily Mirror
Champ: Steve Stricker
Spotted: Behind the 18th green last Sunday after playing Carnoustie for the first time since 1999. “The rough is not as bad as it was in ’99; we can get out of it this time,” Stricker said.
David Facey, The London Sun
Champ: Jim Furyk
Spotted: Practicing on the putting green on Sunday afternoon. “Once I saw him, I bet 20 pounds on him to win at odds of 22-1,” Facey said.
David Smith, The London Evening Standard
Champ: Darren Clarke
Spotted: Wearing full rain gear and standing under an umbrella behind the clubhouse on Monday. He was chatting with Chubby Chandler, his manager.
Lawrence Donegan, The London Guardian
Champ: Tom Lehman
Spotted: Carrying a driver and wandering across the 15th fairway, heading for the 17th tee. “I’ve no idea what he was doing, but he’s my winner!” Donegan said. “Can’t fail.”
David McCarthy, The Scottish Daily Record
Champ: Vijay Singh
Spotted: Practicing on his own on the putting green in the pouring rain on Monday morning. “I remember thinking that was typical of Vijay,” McCarthy said. “His caddie must have the worst job in golf.”
Paul Mahoney, Golf Magazine
Champ: Stephen Ames
Spotted: In the Kinloch Arms pub on Carnoustie High Street on Sunday night. It must have been good beer because he went home to shower and came back again.
Eamon Lynch, Golf Magazine
Champ: K.J. Choi
Spotted: In the men’s room at Edinburgh Airport, where he was waiting for his luggage to arrive. Apparently, there’s no VIP restroom in the arrivals lounge.
Cameron Morfit, Golf Magazine
Champ: Jonathan Byrd
Spotted: Sitting three rows in front on the flight from Atlanta. Our man, sadly, was in the front row of coach.