GULLANE, Scotland – Say hello to Phil, Rory, Hideki and the 27-person entourage that managed to turn this threesome's second round of the British Open into a game of Where's Waldo?
Seriously, try to find the three golfers in the picture above.
The convoy trailing Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama around Muirfield on Friday was beyond ridiculous. The group included rules officials, cameramen – American, British and Japanese – cameramen helpers – again, American, British and Japanese – radio announcers – American and British – and several more with no apparent purpose other than just being there.
The 27 does not include caddies, but it does include some 7-foot-guy presumably allowed to walk the fairway so as not to block the view of any spectators.
"In the States we don't have 90 people inside the ropes. We have a few," Mickelson said after Round 1. "It's just a different culture. But always has been. I knew it coming over. It was just the way it was. Last week [at the Scottish Open] I almost got run over by a cart four or five times on the front nine."
I could say the same thing about the streets of Edinburgh, but that's just because I keep looking the wrong way.
(Funny aside: On the par-3 7th, Matsuyama hit his tee shot to the back of the green, maybe four feet in front of an ESPN cameraman, who was already stationed at the green and not one of the 27. When Matsuyama's caddie twice asked the cameraman to move, he refused both times, first saying "I'm alright here" and then explaining "it will take too long. I'll just keep it still here." Matsuyama played his chip to a foot and saved par.)
It should be noted that the entourage following the Mickelson threesome was larger than the average group, including Tiger Woods', mainly because of Japanese TV following Matsuyama. Still, there were 14 people walking the fairway with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Richard Sterne and Nick Watney. So no, getting inside the ropes here in Scotland hardly requires a VIP pass.