The Open Diary: Games played, lives made and a continent called to action

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Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson may be hogging The Open limelight, but there was much more going on at Royal Troon on Saturday.

Away from the heat of battle at the top of the leaderboard friendships were put to the test and a child's life was being improved immeasurably.

For all that and more, read on for our daily diary from the 145th Open Championship.

 

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF FOR SPIETH FANATIC

When the players walk off the 18th to turn their scorecards in, there's a tall wooden fence where fans can spy their golf heroes walking by just feet away.

One youngster parked himself there on Thursday and Friday to catch Jordan Spieth going past, repeatedly shouting, 'Jordan, could I get a ball?'.

Each time he left disappointed. But on Saturday, he got his wish. Spieth tossed a ball over the fence and into his cupped hands, making that kid's day.

 

IT'S ONLY A GAME

Wandering around the Troon course you happen upon a hive of activity down by the 16th hole, where the spectator village is located.

Among the many things to do there is test yourself on a simulator, affording mere mortals the chance to tackle some of British links golf's most iconic holes - at least in a virtual sense, anyway.

The competition was heating up between two pals looking to get closest to the pin, to the point that one told the other in no uncertain terms where to go when he got a hugely fortuitous bounce off a green-side mound to roll within a couple of feet of the cup.

Now, now, gents, play nicely!

 

ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR

The first day of the weekend's play brought the crowds in their droves and there were queues for some of the best seats in the house.

From the sheer numbers waiting outside, there was a clear favourite - the grandstand with a prime view of the Postage Stamp.

It's like at a theme park, where the biggest queue is for the ride that provides the most thrills and spills, and Troon's eighth hole delivers plenty of those.

From the high of Louis Ousthuizen's ace there on Thursday, to the many lows - including triple bogeys - this is the hole that always delivers.

 

STENSON WANTS RYDER CUP SPIRIT

With Stenson and Mickelson duking it out in what was essentially a match play format, the Swede was asked if it felt a little bit like the Ryder Cup.

He could see the similarities, but felt his American foe was getting a bit more backing than he might during the biennial Europe-USA tussle.

"Phil's very popular in this part of the world,"said Stenson. "So maybe I could have a few more Europeans giving me a push if we want to get the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup going."

 

FOWLER DERAILED AT RAILWAY HOLE

The back nine proved trickier than catching a slippery pig and Rickie Fowler will (probably) agree with that statement.

He took a quadruple-bogey eight at the 11th, as his Open hopes were derailed at the Railway Hole.

Fowler fired two shots over the fence on the right-hand side, both landing on the train tracks as his title hopes hit the buffers.