Rory McIlroy’s roar goes quiet on day three at Royal St George’s

Don’t you wonder sometimes, about sound and vision. (David Bowie, for those that don’t realise – kids, ask your dad).

Sport is synonymous with pictures. The digital age, wall to wall television coverage, mobile phone footage, it could seemingly be a never ending list. You name it, we can probably see it.

Fans photograph the action at The Open. Picture: Barry Goodwin (49263208)

But with most visual coverage, comes sound. Tinkered often for viewing pleasure, it’s at live sport when the noise comes to life.

For a while on day three it seemed that sound would be Rory’s roar – but his time will have to wait for now, more of that to come.

Whether it’s the sound of willow on cricket bat, a long rally at tennis (grunts optional for some) or the roar of a fast-paced car negotiating Brands Hatch, each sport is unique.

Golf provides many different sounds. Obviously, the ball being hit by a driver or an iron off the tee, but there’s so much more than that.

Positioning is key – and I’m not just talking technique for golfers, here. Spectators’ perspective (and sound) changes. Stand behind the golfer, hear the swing in full flow, ball connect and (in some cases) an audible groan as the ball veers off course.

Travel down 50 yards from the tee and it’s a different sound. You see the swing, but it’s the ball that zings off the club face and whizzes through the air, seemingly within touching distance of your ears – but obviously much further away – that transforms the experience.

And vision for the above? Well, if your eyes are good then you tend to see the ball travel through the air. You’ll often spot a stray arm point to where it’s going, normally father showing young son, whose starry-eyed vision is dealing with the surroundings let alone a golf ball merging into wispy white skies.

Television cameras broadcast the event around the world. Picture: Barry Goodwin (49262499)
Television cameras broadcast the event around the world. Picture: Barry Goodwin (49262499)

I did wonder on day two how many really picked it up, though. Take a few groups on the first tee, for example. Golfer after golfer struck their ball down towards the fairway, a generous ripple of applause followed each time. Only for the ball to end up, half of the time, in the rough. Was their applause a blag? Did they really see where the ball was going? Picking up a golf ball in flight is not as easy as it sounds, it would appear.

There’s also the thud sound, the golf ball takes longer to reach its destination than you might think sometimes. Maybe that’s just the modern way, wanting everything in an instant. One, two, three, four and thud. It lands. That’s where the ball was then.

Viewing the ball is an art that many, myself included, still need to perfect. Top tip alert: my spotter friend on day one said that a clue is to look at where the television camera points if you can’t pick the ball up initially.

It’s also easier to pick the ball up on the shorter holes. Standing high on a mound at the side of the sixth hole this morning, you could see the ball from tee to green (or bunker, Bryson). It’s a delightful hole, probably my favourite on the course. Judging by the vast numbers on the banks around it basking in the sun, I’m not alone with that thought.

Fans seek the best viewpoint at Royal St George's. Picture: Barry Goodwin (49262630)
Fans seek the best viewpoint at Royal St George’s. Picture: Barry Goodwin (49262630)

The sound of day three? I thought it was going to be ‘Rory’s roar’ as one chap described the cheers we heard from a neighbouring hole when Rory McIlroy moved quickly up the leaderboard around lunchtime.

Those cheers seemingly got louder with five birdies in the front nine met only by one bogey as Rory moved to four under par, golfers ahead of them turning round to see what the commotion was all about.

But the back nine was a different matter. The echo of excitement across the course dampened somewhat as drop shot followed drop shot and the dream that he was moving into contention for the final day faded away. He finished almost where he started after a 69 left him just one under par.

There were other cheers as well. Golfers on the charge, crowds backing sportsmen from across the globe and willing them to succeed, regardless of nationality. And that’s the best sound of all. Knowing you’re watching, and hearing, something really special.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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