x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Long and winding road to nowhere

A willing driver deserves the Claret Jug for having the perseverance to make it here.

So the pantomime goes on. It is mid-morning in what feels like the middle of nowhere, and that sugary Scottish patois of Ken Bruce, a distinctive disc jockey playing middle of the road tunes on BBC Radio Two, is trying to talk you through this ordeal. One has been in the car for two hours, and Turnberry remains nowhere to be seen. It feels like a scene from Convoy, that old Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw movie, a film that was doing the rounds at roughly the same time Tom Watson won his "Duel in the Sun" with Jack Nicklaus over this track in 1977. Chris Rea's pop song The Road to Hell pierces the ears to add a dash of irony to all this stalling. Radio reports indicate that there is "heavy" traffic on the A77 into the course.

Heavy? It feels like it would be quicker to negotiate these remaining 30 miles on your hands and knees. A willing driver deserves the Claret Jug for having the perseverance to make it here. Making it through the wind and driving rain and keeping one's point of view is the key to the day, but patience can be in short supply. The second round was still drying off late last night. It is 15 years since Turnberry hosted this tournament. It is described as the remotest of the Open venues. If Turnberry gets any remoter, they may as well ship the Open out to the Ailsa Craig, the spot of rock in the Firth of Clyde that peers into Turnberry. Many a limping field were all at sea anyway yesterday, hung out to dry by the elements. The willing American Steve Marino was not among the casualties. In his first Open, he stuck manfully to his task.

Marino boasts a famous surname from American football when one recalls Dan of the Miami Dolphins. The golfing version is a somewhat stubbled character. He managed to trot safely back to the clubhouse on five under for his two rounds. Well done, sir. It seemed to all be going off later on. Old Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie are rapidly becoming golf's version of Hinge and Bracket. Their ongoing quarrel fuelled by the right to the Ryder Cup captaincy is an irrelevance that has helped neither party. Lyle finished his two days at eight over, Monty on five over. They are both cut from the weekend.

At least Watson kept his decorum. After an opening birdie, a series of bogeys wounded his gait before he discovered a few more birdies. A protruding John Daly wound up on level par for the tournament in a pair of glaring trousers he seems to have excavated from a circus carnival. He is temporarily banned from the US Tour for spending a night in jail last year, but is hardly off colour. Mark Calcevecchia continued his pursuit 20 years after he won the Open at nearby Troon.

He finished one behind Marino after a 69. Amid the bedlam, Michael Campbell, a former US Open champion, retired and was suddenly carted off the course. This has apparently happened five times this season. At 20 over approaching the last eight holes, it saved him from coming home in an ambulance. The heaving crowd remain unable to leave and be readmitted, apparently to help with traffic congestion. The cynical would say this is a ploy to keep them within the confines of the course, spending money.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, has been here extolling the benefits of a country that likes to market itself as the "best small country in the world". The transport links, or lack of them, slightly soils such grand designs. It was Mark Twain who said that "golf is a good walk spoiled". Turnberry is a good journey spoiled. dkane@thenational.ae