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July 21, 2012

Rickie Mania rocks Bollinger's tent at Royal Lytham

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Rickie Fowler seems to be everywhere you look these days: in TV ads, on magazine covers, in goofy YouTube videos ... even swigging magnums of champagne during the third round of the 141st Open Championship.

OK, slight clarification on that last item. It wasn’t Fowler himself in the bustling Bollinger's tent on a balmy Saturday afternoon at Royal Lytham, but a posse of newspaper and advertising executives who looked just like him. 

Or sort of like him. 

Or … well, see for yourself:


There were 14 copycats in all, resplendent in their bright orange polos, flat-brimmed Puma caps, and 80s-rocker wigs. You couldn’t miss them, and neither could Fowler. On the 16th hole Saturday, he spotted his groupies and responded with a quick tip of his cap. (Fowler shot his best round of the week, an even-par 70, and is tied for 43rd.)

Marcus Hall, a 40-year-old media planner at MediaCom, said his group has been coming to the Open for 12 years, mimicking a different player's style at each event. Last year, at Royal St. George’s, it was Ian Poulter (Union Jack trousers). Another year, they paid homage to Nick Faldo.

“We wore sh---y diamond sweaters,” Hall said.

The most animated reaction they’ve received from a pro came from -- who else? --- Miguel Angel Jimenez, whom the group honored by donning big, bushy ponytails at Hoylake in 2006. The Spaniard approached the men, all smiles, then grabbed his ponytail and playfully flipped it in the air.

At some Opens, the group has gone a step farther, serenading their player du jour with an original hymn. Like their outfits, though, some songs have been more successful than others. Here's a rendition of one of their more memorable numbers, the hauntingly beautiful Ode to the Mechanic.

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