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Golf : Fans Foul Up When Names Are the Same

July 17, 1988|Thomas Bonk

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — When a field of 153 golfers from all over the world began playing the British Open, it sometimes got to be a little confusing telling all the players apart. There were some problems with names, among other things.

For instance, Gordon Brand Jr. and Gordon J. Brand both played. They stayed apart, it is hoped.

Gordon J. Brand began using his middle initial some time ago to avoid confusion with Gordon Brand Jr. over their Brand names shortly after they both had trouble cashing checks.

Actually, it's not that difficult to identify them. Gordon Brand Jr. is three years younger than Gordon J. Brand. He is a Scot, the son of Bristol club pro Gordon Brand Sr.

If that's not clear enough, Gordon J. Brand, a Briton, is the one with the musical talent. At one time, Brand was in a band. He played cornet in the West Yorkshire sauce works band. Don't ask how a sauce works.

Christy O'Connor Jr. is also playing, not in the band, but in the Open. Unlike Gordon Brand Jr., Christy O'Connor Jr. isn't really a junior, but he is the nephew of Irish golfer Christy O'Connor, who isn't here, thank goodness.

As you might expect, Christy O'Connor Jr. began calling himself Jr. to distinguish himself from uncle Christy O'Connor.

Meanwhile, Australian Peter Senior played well enough to keep him from being confused with anyone else. That will probably work until Senior has a son and the younger Senior plays here, possibly in the same twosome with the elder Senior--Peter Senior Sr. and Peter Senior Jr.

Sometimes, players with different names are confused because they look so much alike. Nick Price and Nick Faldo said people have been getting them mixed up for years.

Said Price: "When I first started playing in Europe, I'd walk past and people would say 'There goes Nick Faldo.' " Then after I won the World Series of Golf in 1983, they'd see Nick Faldo and say 'There goes Nick Price.' "

With that, Nick walked out of the room and Nick walked in.

Alex Harvey, a Glasgow jeweler, is going to have some big, big pressure on him Monday.

Once the tournament is over, Harvey has about 12 minutes to engrave the name of the British Open winner on the silver trophy so the champion can receive it on the 18th green.

Nick Faldo, who won last year at Muirfield in Scotland, appreciated the quick engraving work of Harvey.

"That's a nice touch," Faldo said. "You pick it up and you know it's yours."

The trophy, a silver claret jug mounted on a pedestal, has been used since 1872 when the Royal and Ancient decided not to give away an Open Championship belt, but instead chose to inscribe the winner's name each year on a perpetual trophy.

In its 116 years, the trophy has had only one rough moment. That was in 1983 when Tom Watson dropped it on the 18th green at Royal Birkdale and slightly bent the handle.

The trophy obviously needed some work to return it to its former luster. It has spent the last three months being repaired. The nicks, scratches and dents were taken out.

Faldo, who has deep interest in the trophy as well as British Open history, said craftsmen removed the cup from its base to work on it.

In fact, Faldo likes the trophy so much, he had a copy made for himself. It's almost an exact duplicate, he said, except that he dropped the word 'strokes' after each winner's name and score.

"We didn't have room," he said. 'But it's an absolute work of art, I think."

Faldo keeps the trophy by the side of his bed.

"I want a reminder," he said.

The medical tent, under the direction of Dr. Paul McKenzie, has been doing business at a brisk pace. Four spectators have been treated after being hit by golf balls, including one fan who was struck in the head.

"The gentleman wasn't hurt," Dr. Bob Thompson said. "He said he heard it before he felt it."

Thompson said that medics have treated spectators for both hypothermia and sunburn.

"It has happened more than once, but not on the same day," he said.

Last week at the Scottish Open at Gleneagles, four broken legs were reported, although no limbs have been snapped so far at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. But in 1979, when the British Open was last held here, one man did break his leg.

When medical attendants on the scene discovered that the man's leg was wooden, they radioed these instructions back to the base: "Bring a joiner."

Seve Ballesteros, who has not won any of his four major championships with one of his brothers as a caddy, is employing a 30-year-old Englishman named Ian Wright.

Ballesteros has sometimes argued with his brothers when they caddied, but Wright said he treats Ballesteros with a philosophy of his own.

"I've heard about his trouble with other caddies," Wright said. "I just try to talk to him and slow him down when he gets excited."

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