From Here to Maternity

By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' There are two things standing in the way of Ross Fisher and the Open Championship, a measly cell phone and a seemingly invincible 59-year-old man whos bathing in the Fountain of Youth.
 
Pair that with a difficult, windswept Turnberry and it will be a daunting task.
 
Fishers wife Joanne is due to give birth to the couples first child Tuesday. There is a Learjet on standby at the nearby Prestwick airport fueled and ready to take Ross home when he receives word that Joanne is in labor.
 
Ross Fisher has many reasons to smile. After Sunday, there could be a few more. (Getty Images)
Its not like the 28-year-old Englishman is hovering around mediocrity, where a decision of this magnitude would be much easier. Fisher shot a rollercoaster 70 Saturday at the British Open and is tied for second place, a shot behind cagey veteran Tom Watson, the weeks ultimate feel-good story.
 
Fisher insists that if hes on the 14th hole with a one-shot lead, hell leave. If his wife goes into labor 10 minutes before the final round begins, hell leave. Fisher has been steadfast all week, saying that nothing will keep him from missing the birth of little Fish.
 
The potential predicament has had British newspapers, only half jokingly, asking questions all week. Does Joanne care that an English player hasnt won the Open for 17 years? Does she care that a British player hasnt won for 10 years?
 
Hopefully she wont get too excited watching me tomorrow and she will be able to hang on for another day, Fisher said. Hopefully I can hang on for another day.
 
That Joanne Fisher didnt go into labor Saturday watching her husband was a minor miracle as he turned a dodgy round into one of the better scores of the day. After a birdie on at the third Fisher made shaky bogeys at the fifth, 12th and 14th holes to fall back. But he converted a 12-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th and two-putted from 45 feet on the par-5 17th hole. An easy par at the difficult last put him in at 3-under 207 and assured him a Sunday pairing with fellow Englishman Lee Westwood.
 
Dig into the statistics and Fishers performance is more impressive. He had hit 12-of-14 fairways each of the first two days but managed to hit only seven on Saturday. But he controlled his irons well and managed to hit 14 greens, one more than in Round 2.
 
Ive played three decent rounds around here, Fisher said. The preparation coming into this week was pretty good.
 
Fishers performance this week is not a surprise. He lost in the semifinal match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play to Stewart Cink, tied for 30th at the Masters and was fifth at the U.S. Open, where a balky putter kept him from contending more. Somehow, even a mystery to him, hes found a way to play well on golfs grandest stages.
 
A late bloomer of sorts, Fisher turned professional four years ago when he was 24. The scouting report on him had always been that he could hit the ball further than most but that he was terrible from 100 yards and in. So 18 months ago Fisher turned to former English golfer Mark Roe to help with the short-game struggles.
 
The man has all the tools to be a world-class player, if he isnt already. He is 6-foot-3, slender and handsome, attributes that sponsors will love. On the course hes cool, poised and articulate, skills that hell need in his pursuit to win multiple majors.
 
But before he can win multiple majors he needs to be in position to win the first. Whether that will happen depends on unpredictable factors.
 
To win and then to get back home and to see the birth of our first child would be obviously a dream come true, Fisher said.
 
The Fishers do not know whether theyre expecting a boy or a girl and say that theyve not settled on any names.
 
Would Claret Jug Fisher be appropriate?
 
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