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Sport The Open Diary: Sun shines on Birkdale, Player shows his class

23:56  17 july  2017
23:56  17 july  2017 Source:   omnisport.performgroup.com

The Open: High-scoring history at Birkdale and the best Opta facts

  The Open: High-scoring history at Birkdale and the best Opta facts We examine some of the best facts relating to The Open, as Royal Birkdale prepares to host the 146th staging of the event.The 146th Open Championship takes place this week at Royal Birkdale.

For all that and more from our reporters on the ground, read on for our Open daily diary . Sun bakes birkdale A touch of class from golfing icon player .

The Open Diary : Sun shines on Birkdale , Player shows his class . Raza ton puts Zimbabwe on course in Colombo. 14:40. The Open : McIlroy and Johnson grouped together at Birkdale , Spieth to play with Stenson.

HenrikStensonCropped: Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug © Provided by Omnisport Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug

It was a glorious day in the north west of England on Monday as Royal Birkdale sprung to life ahead of this week's Open Championship.

The 146th edition of golf's oldest major tees off on Thursday as the sport's elite battle it out to be crowned champion golfer of the year.

On a day when reigning champion Henrik Stenson handed back the famous Claret Jug and the likes of Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood faced the media, there was much else besides to catch the eye.

For all that and more from our reporters on the ground, read on for our Open daily diary.

The Open Social Diary: Defending champion Stenson arrives in style

  The Open Social Diary: Defending champion Stenson arrives in style Henrik Stenson arrived at Royal Birkdale in a rather interesting vehicle and Jon Rahm got to grips with the bunkers near some lengthy rough.The build-up to the 2017 Open Championship has begun, with players and fans beginning to descend upon Royal Birkdale.

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SUN BAKES BIRKDALE ... BUT FOR HOW LONG?

Birkdale is a notoriously tricky course, but Monday's weather bathed it in a warm glow that showed the unforgiving links course in its most flattering light.

That's not to say anyone wayward enough to land in the rough won't need a search party to retrieve their ball, but the walk to find it should be pleasant enough.

Players and spectators alike will have an eye on the forecast this week and rain does seem inevitable at some stage during the tournament.

Worse still, the wind is not likely to be as forgiving as during the week's first practice day.

A TOUCH OF CLASS FROM GOLFING ICON PLAYER

It is not uncommon for sports stars to keep journalists waiting for interviews.

With that in mind, two of our reporters were taken by surprise when the great Gary Player graciously rolled out the welcome mat ahead of a chat at the nearby Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa.

After a lengthy car journey from the airport, the nine-time major champion was understandably eager to grab a quick cup of tea before facing the camera.

"Please come and join us," Player insisted, before going on to provide rich entertainment with a series of amusing anecdotes in the company of wife Vivienne and one of his grandchildren.

DO I HAVE TO GIVE IT BACK? WE'VE BEEN JET-SKIING TOGETHER

It is a tradition of The Open that the Claret Jug be handed back by the defending champion before the tournament begins.

Stenson had to undertake that duty, having been invited to return the prized piece of silverware to Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.

WATCH: Backstage at Birkdale

  WATCH: Backstage at Birkdale James Haddock takes us behind to scenes at Royal Birkdale to see what goes on away from the course at The 146th Open. There is everything from a Swing Zone where free coaching sessions are given by PGA pros to enthusiastic youngsters to a links golf challenge, where anyone can test their skills on replica mini courses from Open venues.Also at Birkdale there's the chance to step into the past and dress like golfers in eras gone by, while also reliving some great moments of the legend himself in the Arnold Palmer Experience.

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In a light-hearted ceremony on the first tee, Stenson revealed to Sky Sports that the oddest place he and the famous jug had been together was on a jet-ski.

But when the moment came to turn it over to Slumbers, Stenson took a step back and cradled the trophy a little closer, jesting that he was not keen to release it from his grasp.

Ahhh, that famous Stenson sense of humour...

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DID - FLEETWOOD

Hometown hope Tommy Fleetwood grew up just down the road from Birkdale and has confessed to having snuck on the course once or twice.

He's here to compete for the title this week and the form guide suggests he has a chance, but he warned against anyone following in his trespassing footsteps.

Asked for the best places to gain access to the course for a free round, Fleetwood somewhat deflected the question.

He said: "You can try, I wouldn't recommend it. I mean, we were very clever about it, or my dad was, not me. It's a lot tougher these days."

The Open Social Diary: Fans flock to Rahm at Birkdale before heavens open

  The Open Social Diary: Fans flock to Rahm at Birkdale before heavens open Jon Rahm drew a crowd and Kevin Na aced the 14th before the heavens opened during the final day of practice for The Open.The players competing at the 146th Open Championship were given a preview of the conditions expected to come this weekend, as the final practice round was eventually suspended due to the threat of storms.

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SERGI-OH... HE WENT THERE

Sergio Garcia is a major winner now, but that doesn't mean he has completely shaken off his past as a nearly-man.

No tournament defined Garcia's major disappointments quite like The Open, where he has recorded 10 top-10 finishes.

The Spaniard has twice been a runner-up, both times to Irishmen, and one Irish journalist took the time to remind Garcia of his Carnoustie and Hoylake heartbreak, which saw Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy takes the honours respectively.

Garcia was asked if given the chance to go back to either tournament and take a mulligan on the back nine, where would he employ that special power?

He did answer, but not before the question was allowed to hang in the air like a bad smell.

Let the man forget - he's a Masters champion now!

The Open Social Diary: Mystic O'Meara's prediction holds true as Birkdale scoreboard becomes nest .
Three players carded a 65 to share the lead at Royal Birkdale - vindicating Mark O'Meara's predictive powers on day one of The Open.Mark O'Meara might want to go into fortune telling once he is done with golf.

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