The Open Diary: Fans flock to see Rahm before the storm

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After two days of blissful sunshine, Wednesday afternoon brought a notable shift in weather conditions at Royal Birkdale on the eve of the 146th Open Championship.

Our reporters on the ground in Southport provide information on stormy weather and much more in Omnisport's latest daily Open diary.

 

TWO STARS FROM SPAIN, THEN LOTS OF RAIN

Jon Rahm again found himself in one of the day's most popular practice groups as he played a round with Masters champion Sergio Garcia. Sebastian Munoz and Maverick McNealy joined the two Spaniards, who predictably commanded plenty of attention from comfortably the biggest crowd of the week to date.

Yet while conditions were perfectly fine for those who took to the course in the morning, play was suspended for the day not long after 4pm as an electrical storm approached Birkdale.

The forecast rain took a little while to roll in, but by 5:40pm one of the more cowardly members of the Omnisport team was gently rocking in terror as loud thunder claps boomed over the media tent.

Happily, it was not too long before the storm passed, enabling the aforementioned coward to make good his escape via a flooded section of car park.

 

PEREZ MASTERS BIRKDALE ROUGH

Deep rough can be expected to pose plenty of problems for those who stray from the fairways this week.

During his practice round on Wednesday, veteran American Pat Perez looked to have found a particularly tough spot to the right of the ninth fairway.

Omnisport's roving reporters eagerly dashed across for a closer look, anticipating a potential horror show to unfold in the long grass.

Yet Perez demonstrated superb skill by firing his approach to around 12 feet, before turning to partners Robert Streb and William McGirt and jokingly stating: "I thought you said that was hard?"

 

NO WORDS FOR BIRKDALE'S SIXTH ... OR AT LEAST NO CLEAN ONES

Rahm had to mind his language when questioned about his love of rap music on Tuesday and the censors were almost called into action in the Birkdale interview room 24 hours later.

World number one Dustin Johnson was asked whether he could give a name to the sixth hole - a fiendish and lengthy par four that is expected to once again play as Birkdale's toughest hole this week.

"Yeah, probably words I couldn't use in a press conference," replied Johnson with a grin.

"But it's a good hole. It's one of the tougher holes on the golf course. There's plenty of room out there, you've just got to hit a good tee ball."

 

14TH HOLE NA PROBLEM FOR KEVIN

Perhaps the most enjoyable moment of the week so far, certainly for one man, came when Kevin Na registered a hole-in-one at the 14th.

Ahead of the U.S. Open, Na attracted attention with negative comments regarding the rough at Erin Hills.

On this occasion, the American had reason to smile ahead of a major outing. Who doesn't love an ace?

 

DAY COLLECTS FIRST TROPHY OF THE WEEK

Jason Day may have endured a disappointing 2017 to date, but he is sure to leave Royal Birkdale with some silverware.

At the end of his pre-tournament news conference, the Australian was presented with the Mark H. McCormack Award for the most weeks spent at the top of the world rankings in a calendar year.

Now ranked sixth, Day spent 41 weeks as the top dog in 2016.

He is the fourth man to claim the award that was first presented in 1998, after Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. Woods won it on a staggering 14 occasions.