Friday's Open Diary

From Brian Keogh at Royal Birkdale

Ladybird and the Champ

Open champ Padraig Harrington got a major boost when he spotted fans wearing ladybird tee shirts as he warmed up.

Damon Airey, a teaching professional at Hawkstone Park in Shrewsbury, was so impressed with Harrington’s behaviour at Carnoustie last year that he got three shirts specially printed for this year’s Open

The shirts feature the logo: “Can you put Ladybirds in it?” with the word ‘Padraig’ emblazoned underneath.

The other shirts were for for Airey’s pals, Tim and Mark Jones and when Harrington spotted them, he turned to his caddie and said: “I like that. Give me a pen Ronan.”

Delighted to get all three shirts signed by the Open champion, Airey said: “We loved it when little Paddy ran out on 18th green last year.

“Padraig has been our favourite ever since. He is such a natural guy, so different to some of the stuffed shirts we see around these days.”

Rocco misses the Muppet

Open contender Rocco Mediate has a major connection with Waterville - home to his close pal Mark “Muppet” Murphy.

But the runner-up to Tiger Woods in June’s US Open hasn’t managed to make a trip to the Kerry golfing heartland to celebrate with his Irish friend.

Tied with Graeme McDowell on two-over par, Rocco said: “I wanted to go see Murph’ but I didn’t have time. I think he’s at home.

“I wanted to go so bad, but I just couldn’t do it. We’ve got to go back the States right after the Open, so I can’t do it. I get over there a bunch. I love it there.”

Pro golfer Murphy lived with Mediate in Florida a few years ago and hosts the American on his Irish visits.

Mrs Norman

Tennis legend Chris Evert says it was “good genetics” that attracted her to the Great White Shark Greg Norman.

Evert and Norman, both 53, tied the knot in a high security wedding in Bermuda last month.

But 18-time major winner Evert confessed that Norman’s “angular’ physique cuaght her eye years before they actually met in person.

A fan of Norman since the 80s, Evert said: “I also liked to watch a little bit of Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus but Greg had great charisma.

“I liked the way he walked and the way he stood there. He had good shape, you know, that triangle. Good genetics.”

Norman has taken up tennis recently and while he reckons he’s an 18 to 20 handicapper. But Evert has not plans to take up golf.

She said: “I’m not a dabbler. If I do something, I like to give it everything.”

Harrington odds

Padraig Harrington has scorched up the betting charts after his second round 68 at Birkdale.

The Dubliner was out of 33/1 after struggling with his wrist injury on Wednesday but is now an 8/1 shot with Paddy Power to win back-to-back-majors behind KJ Choi.

Jim Furyk is the next best fancy at 9/1 with Graeme McDowell a 14/1 chance.

Paddy Power took a major hit last year when Harrington lifted the Claret Jug.

And their decision to play each way on the top 7 this year could be expensive.

Before the start, a spokesman said: "We’re still counting the cost of the damage that Harrington did to us last year.

"Every Irish person seemed to have a few quid on him and this year seems no different with a frenzy of ante-post support for the Dubliner already."