There, standing just outside the ropes on the left side, was Andy Robinson, coach of the Scotland rugby team and a man who knows a thing or two about turning things around.
As you may well recall, Robinson's reputation was not in the best of shape a few months ago, His team had just lost seven matches on the trot, a run that encompassed a Six Nations whitewash. Then, on last month's tour to Australia and the South Pacific, he revived their fortunes with three successive victories, including a first away win over the Wallabies for 30 years.
Now at this point of the 2012 Open Championship's final day, seven just happened to be a significant number in the life of Tiger Woods. Specifically, it represented the exact number of strokes he had taken on the previous hole. More details anon, but while some unimaginative fellows might suggest that Robinson's presence was mere coincidence, I'm convinced that he was placed there by some divine hand in order that his winning aura might inspire Woods. For sure enough, the magic rubbed off, and the 14-times major champion made his first birdie of the day.
But back to that 7 at the sixth. When the Open was last played at Lytham, in 2001, the hole was officially a par-5. It was also, officially, the easiest hole on the course. So those devious coves at the R&A decided to toughen it up on the cheap by reclassifying it as a par-4, whereupon it immediately became the hardest hole instead.
In retrospect, Woods might have been happy with a 5, but the day had reached the point when it became clear he had to push on a bit. For the previous 59 holes he had played the kind of maddeningly conservative golf that he used to produce when he was protecting his lead in a major. Now, though, that lead belonged to Adam Scott and Woods, who could hardly be blamed for failing to anticipate the Australian's later collapse, calculated that he couldn't sit back any more.
Hence the sizzling 5-iron from the right fairway. "One yard," he said to his caddie Joe LaCava as it fell towards earth. One yard, it turned out, was the extra distance the shot needed to clear the small corner of Mordor that is the front-left bunker by Lytham's sixth green. When Woods looked down at his ball, settled in its darkest corner, he knew he had serious work to do.
There was no escape route, nowhere to bail out. Woods would claim later that smashing it against the bunker face was a deliberate ploy, but his acrobatic leap to avoid the ricochet – and two penalty shots – didn't exactly back up that explanation. To most of us, it looked as if he was trying the 100-1 shot of sending it skywards and hoping it might somehow land on the green, although he probably did calculate on having an improved lie if it did rebound from the face.
When he did finally free himself from the bunker's purgatory, the American messed up an already foul situation with three putts for a triple-bogey. "The game plan was to shoot under par going out," he said, siding with the Lytham orthodoxy that you make a score on the front nine and protect it on the way back. The par for the front nine is 34 shots; by halfway Woods had taken 37.
Cue plan B. Specifically, cue the removal of the distinctive tiger headcover from Woods' driver. On each of the previous three days, he had literally kept the driver under wraps at the par-4 10th, relying on his 2-iron instead. If he had been any more conservative he would have been wearing a twin-set and pearls and reading Country Life. Now he had to get serious. No more Mr Nice Guy from now on.
And it worked. Woods split the fairway with a massive drive, clipped a wedge to eight feet and drained the putt for a birdie. When he reached the 11th, he and LaCava spent an age discussing their options off the tee of the 598-yard par-5, but there was only one. Out came the driver again. "I'll have to hammer it to clear that one," Woods said, looking at a cavernous bunker ahead.
He would also have to hit the ball straight. But he didn't. Woods carved his drive into rough on the right and the opportunity to close in on the leaders was gone. A kindly lie allowed him to salvage a par, but he was running out of holes. An assured birdie at the par-3 12th, when he hit his 7-iron to within 10 feet, brought the crowd to their feet, but it didn't do a lot to boost his chances of victory.
And at the 13th they were finally dynamited. A cautious iron off the tee suggested that he was already in damage limitation mode, but even at that things would not go his way. His tee shot landed in a bunker on the right side of the fairway, from where he could only advance it a few more yards. A sloppy approach and two putts later and he was heading for the 14th with another bogey on his card.
Yet another at the 15th suggested that Lytham's fearsome closing stretch was finally living up to its reputation after a benign few days, but Woods finished off with a couple of pars and a birdie at the last.
"It's part of golf," Woods said of his run of 13 majors without a win. "We all go through these phases. Some people it lasts entire careers. Even the greatest players have gone through stretches like this."
The clear implication was he genuinely believes his slump will end soon. Just call it the Robinson Effect.