LOCH LOMOND // Alas, it was not meant to last. Scotland is not built for a prolonged period of sunshine. On the final morning, the clouds rudely nudged the sun out of the way for the rain to seep in. After three days that felt like the middle of the Mediterranean, the scenic green bowl that contains Loch Lomond began to fill up. The Scottish music festival, T in the Park, that includes varied acts like Lady Gaga and The Killers, crops up on the same week that golf rears it head, a thoughtful time for singers and swingers.
It would not be a musical festival or a golf tournament in Scotland without an adequate dose of drizzle. It would not be July in Scotland without the gathering clouds. Weather and form never seem to hold up. The English player, Nick Dougherty, a constantly effervescent and audible fellow from Liverpool, was out in the early showers. The pop band Blur were last night playing at the T in the Park festival. It is an apt description of Dougherty's frame of mind since he clasped the BMW International in Germany a fortnight ago.
Dougherty is recovering personal ground after the death of his mother last year. He was named the European Tour's player of the month for June. This is a new month and Doughery is confronting fresh challenges. Dougherty and the weather were unsettled. He was disgruntled that he was yesterday still traipsing around the course rather than preparing for the British Open Championship at Turnberry. He carded a five-over 76 to finish his week on eight over. One forthright spectator could be heard muttering at the back of the 18th green. "Dougherty's what over? He's obviously chucked it."
"I was very lucky to make the cut here," said Dougherty. "I tried to use the weekend to work on my game and my game ahead of Turnberry. I would not say that I made that much progress. "I just wish I hadn't come. As much as this is a good event, I should not have played, and instead got myself ready for the Open. "If I had taken some time off, I could have reflected on how well I did in Germany and taken some confidence from it, but instead I was stood on the range in France before the French Open last week hitting balls. That probably wasn't the best idea.
"In Germany, my attitude was superb. I haven't felt like that over the past two weeks. "You feel different the week after you win. Like Tiger Woods, you have to master the art of coming back and performing well after winning. Some guys win, then almost always miss the cut. My attitude hasn't been good enough the past two weeks. I haven't really done myself justice." An English player has not made off with the Claret Jug since Nick Faldo lifted the last of his three Opens in 1992. Faldo encouraged Dougherty after he impressed in his formative years. "He is just everything you dream about being," Dougherty once said of the six-time major winner.
Dougherty was five when Faldo held off Paul Azinger to win his first British Open at Muirfield in 1987. Scotland's Paul Lawrie is the only other British winner of the event, a decade ago, in the intervening 22 years. Figures such as Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, Mark O'Meara, David Duval, Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton and Tiger Woods have extended a tradition of US dominance. "It would be nice to see an English winner of the Open. There's a lot been made of it," said Dougherty.
"There's not been a lot of success for Britain. We're not really counting Padraig Harrington as British. "I think the Americans have the right attitude at Opens. It is like playing on the moon for them, but they love the imagination that goes into the shots on a links course. That is something they do not get over there." Dougherty intends to practice with his fellow Englishman Justin Rose at Turnberry. "I've played Turnberry a few times in the past. I think it is a great course, but I think it could be a tough test, even without horrific weather," said Dougherty.
"At the moment, I'm tired and feel quite angry, and that's the way I've felt every time after I have won." A hungry man is an angry man, as they say. The clouds of the morning dispelled to usher in clearer spells later in the day. Dougherty must clear his mind to weather the mental storms that Turnberry will, inevitably, throw up. @Email:email@example.com