Open diary: Tuesday

From Brian Keogh at Royal Birkdale

McDowell learns the truth at 17

Graeme McDowell is reserving judgement on the "funky" par-five 17th green.

The redesigned, roller-coaster putting surface has been lashed by several players.

But McDowell will wait and see if the hole treats him well before joining the bandwagon.

He said: "There's going to be bad shots that end up stone dead and there's going to be great shots that end up in threeputt territory. It's a funky little green obviously.

"The rest of the greens maybe aren't that difficult, and all of a sudden you walk on the 17th, and you go, "Who designed who this?"

"I haven't really sort of liked or disliked it as such. Maybe I'll start to form an opinion as the competition begins, whether it's good or not so nice to me perhaps."

Ernie likes Sergio

Ernie Els reckons he hits it off with Sergio Garcia.

But that's because the Spaniard bought the Big Easy's Florida mansion and got a good deal.

Els joked: "He bought my house in Lake Nona, which makes him a good friend of mine.

"I gave him a very good deal, by the way. We just hit it off. I like his energy."

I'm No 2 to Spanish soccer heroes says Garcia

Sergio Garcia wants to complete a hat-trick of Spanish sporting summer successes at the Open.

But he confessed that he will still be overshadowed by the Spanish soccer side that won Euro 2008 if he wins the Claret Jug.

Garcia said: "If I manage to win here, it will be something. It'll be a very good summer for Spain. But it's not going to be easy."

Asked which would be bigger, a Garcia Open win, Spain's Euro 2008 victory or Rafa Nadal's Wimbledon triumph, he said: "It's the football. In Spain, football is the biggest."

Quizzed on who comes second? Garcia or Nadal, Sergio grinned: "Me."

Popeye tips the Aussies

Aussie Craig Parry reckons the Claret Jug will end up Down Under again.

Nicknamed Popeye because of his giant forearms, Parry said: "Here in 1991, Ian Baker-Finch won, Mike Harwood was second, I was eighth and Greg Norman was ninth.

"Birkdale just seems to be set up for the Australians. It's a little similar to the courses we have back home, so I think we will go well again this year."

Aussies have won three of the eight Opens held at Birkdale with Peter Thomson winning in 1954 and 1965 and Baker-Finch in 1991.

Parry will hit the first ball of the 2008 Open when he tees it up with Lucas Glover and Simon Dyson at 6.30 am tomorrow.