x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ruinous eight is the birth of the blues for father-to-be Ross Fisher

Ross Fisher had the tournament by the throat midway through a gripping final afternoon at Turnberry only to let a defining career moment slip from his grasp.

TURNBERRY // Ross Fisher, who has spent the whole week of the 138th British Open torn between his professional life and private life, had the tournament by the throat midway through a gripping final afternoon at Turnberry only to let a defining career moment slip from his grasp. The young Englishman had somehow managed to hold his game together after his pregnant wife Jo failed to deliver their first baby on schedule last Tuesday. Each overdue day since, he has promised to down tools and rush to a waiting Lear Jet at Prestwick Airport to witness the birth in a London hospital.

Each day that pledge has been put on hold, enabling Fisher, 28, a creditable fifth in last month's US Open, to mount an even stronger challenge for a first major success in his seventh appearance at this level and with it a coveted place among the world's top 10. Birdies at the opening two holes and simultaneous dropped shots by the overnight leader Tom Watson saw Fisher take a runaway lead of three strokes over the chasing pack, only to fall apart in spectacular fashion at the moment of reckoning.

After surrendering some of his advantage by missing the green at the short fourth, Fisher then came to serious grief off the next tee and his dream of taking the coveted Claret Jug to "wet the head" of his new offspring, swiftly turned into a nightmare. The 474-yard fifth hole on the Ailsa course will give poor Fisher as many sleepness nights as the baby does. Possibly going for too much off the tee, he sprayed his drive into thick rough down the right and managed to move his first recovery shot only a few inches into an even worse lie.

He eventually hacked the buried ball across the fairway into an unplayable lie in more deep rough and the ensuing penalty shot contributed to a disastrous eight which took him from four under to level par. A bogey on the long seventh, where aspiring champions were seeking eagle, added to Fisher's misery and when he dropped another at the next hole that commanding three-stroke lead had degenerated into a deficit of six on his playing partner Lee Westwood.

Fisher played the back nine as solidly as any to come home with a two-over-par aggregate total of 282, leaving him to wonder what might have been as the over-riding counter objective of seeing watching over the safe arrival of Fisher junior re-occupied his mind. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae