Nigel Broadwith could be the luckiest man at The Open.

The course manager at John O’Gaunt, in Bedfordshire, was preparing to watch the action at Royal Troon on his TV only a few days ago.

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This morning, though, he had the best view in the house as Rory McIlroy set about his challenge for the Claret Jug.

Broadwith was called in as a late substitute to fill the group of greenkeeping volunteers that keep the tournament ticking over.

Getting lucky in the draw for Open pairings, he was put on bunker duty with the marquee trio of the world number four, Hideki Matsuyama and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.

TROON, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd after putting on the 18th during the first round on day one of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 14, 2016 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“It’s brilliant, fantastic,” the 7-handicapper said before the round. “I came here back in 1997 when Justin Leonard won and I really wanted to do this one.

“I applied to be a volunteer through the BIGGA magazine earlier in the year. If you are lucky you get picked.

“I went to St Andrews last year and I didn’t get through this time. Ten days ago, I was asked if I would like to be a reserve and come up.”

After watching McIlroy start with an opening 70, Broadwith will return tomorrow to perform the same duties with Masters champion Danny Willett, Rickie Fowler and world number one Jason Day.

“I am getting a bit of stick off the lads,” he said. “But it’s just the luck of the draw and how it turns out.


“To be walking alongside them, inside the ropes, where there is no pushing and shoving – I’m getting a bird’s eye view and, hopefully, will pick up some tips.”

So how do you rake the perfect bunker?

“You’ve got to finish it as smoothly as you can in the direction of play. You are not just pushing it away and you have to smoothly move backwards and forwards.”