'Team Alfie' members making themselves heard at British Open
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) They snaked their way beside the undulating fairways of Royal Birkdale all week, a group of around 150 spectators wearing white T-shirts and caps, displaying colorful banners and cheering on their working-class hero playing inside the ropes.
Meet Team Alfie, the fan club of a 25-year-old amateur golfer from east London who has risen to prominence at this British Open.
Alfie Plant is the only amateur playing the weekend at Birkdale, so he's set to win the silver medal as low amateur, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (1996) and Rory McIlroy (2007) among others.
After tapping in for par at No. 18 for a 1-under 69 in his third round Saturday, he looked up to a grandstand to the right of the green and pointed his putter to the rows of family and friends who were on their feet, applauding.
Among them was Darren Plant, Alfie's father.
''I deliver parcels for a living, his mum's a postwoman,'' he told The Associated Press behind the 18th green. ''We are working-class people. ... He's a working-class hero.''
''The Alfie Army,'' as it has been dubbed in the British media, all wear T-shirts with (hashtag)TeamAlfie emblazoned across the front. One of the banners shows Alfie Plant's face stuck on a plant pot.
''Plant, it grows on you,'' Darren Plant said with a smile.
And fitting the horticultural theme, Alfie Plant's girlfriend is called Daisy.
His fans have roared their support since arriving at Birkdale on Sunday for the practice rounds. On Friday evening, after it was confirmed Alfie would be the amateur medalist, his followers drank champagne and sang loudly in the pavilion at Birkdale. They made such noise they were told to be quiet because they were disturbing golfers putting out on the nearby 18th.
''There's been a couple of times I've sat down on a bank (on the course) and just made sure I'd taken it all in,'' said Alfie Plant, who is the European Amateur champion.
He will play the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup, before turning pro in September.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80