Sunday 18 March 2018

Fisher on a steady track with 'Wobbly'

IS it a good omen for '3' Irish Open leader Ross Fisher that his new caddie has an Irish Open win on his CV?

Phil 'Wobbly' Morbey, a rugged Yorkshireman, caddied for Ian Woosnam in his successive victories at Portmarnock in 1988 and 1989.

Even more interesting for the ambitious Fisher is Morbey's role in helping Woosie to win the Masters in '91, and his eighth Ryder Cup experience alongside the Welsh wizard.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. So far, so good, in week one of the Fisher-Morbey partnership, after the player decided to dispense with the services of Adam Morrow, who had been with him for five years.

Two-under par on day one was disappointing but Fisher's blistering 61 yesterday meant it was smiles all round for the player and caddie.

"For me, it just felt like the time is right for a change and I wanted to give myself one last real push to try to get on Monty's team.

"I think Wobbly has given me that extra bit of added confidence, some self-belief, and, as I say, he's great on the bag," said Fisher.

So how did he get his nickname?

Veteran Tour journalist Norman Dabell informed me that Morbey was a shelf-stacker in a supermarket and heard his mates talking about this caddying lark, so he decided to try it.

In his first event, the shoes didn't fit very well and made his gait a bit awkward. Immediately, he was christened 'Wobbly' and the name stuck.

Since parting company with Woosnam in 2001 -- shortly before the infamous 15 clubs incident at Royal Lytham involving Irish caddie Myles Byrne -- Wobbly's employers include Jose Maria Olazabal, Soren Hansen and Darren Clarke.

Lowry gets back into character

DEFENDING champion Shane Lowry should get an Oscar for his off-course performance all week.

The 23-year-old looked very calm and cool in the days leading up to the start of the Irish Open on Thursday -- but the internal pressure was rising, and Lowry slumped to a three-over par opening round.

That put him under pressure to make the cut, but a 65 for three under saved his tournament.

Talking of the build-up, Lowry said: "I didn't feel relaxed but I was trying to look relaxed.

"I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself all week with so many people here, and so many people from home.

"But I was more like myself on the golf course today. I was a bit chirpy and laughing and joking in between shots and that's the way I normally am."

McIlroy plays safe with 17th excuses

RORY McIlroy warned about the threat posed by the par-four 17th at Killarney -- and not just because he bogeyed it yesterday.

The tee shot requires a safe opening gambit with most likely a three-wood to stay clear of water that cuts into the fairway.

Then it's a case of playing a wedge up a steep hill to the undulating putting surface.

"I think the 17th is a brilliant green. Obviously the 18th has the water, but 17 is where the tournament could be won and lost," said McIlroy.

So far it hasn't been too bad. Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez holed out his second shot for an eagle two; Shane Lowry pitched in for a birdie, and 'Houdini' Harrington saved par with a deft touch with a lob wedge from off the green.

Birthday boys in wait to cut cake

GRAEME McDowell and Justin Rose shared a birthday yesterday but celebrations were muted as both had an anxious wait to see if they made the cut.

Rose was 30 and McDowell 31 yesterday, but both players left themselves balancing on the cut line for most of the day after finishing level par.

The Portrush man admits he's still not settled emotionally and physically after his US Open win.

It's manifesting in his short game and putting, but McDowell isn't complaining. "I wouldn't change it for the world," he said.

Irish Independent

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