Open Golf: 5 things we learned on Thursday

Muirfield conditions, passionate fans and the thrill of watching Tiger play

1. The conditions will play a big part this week

In a recent interview with NCG, twice Open champion Padraig Harrington commented: “The Open is the most unpredictable of all the Majors. If you want to experience what a golf course is really like then the Open is the one that can change from year to year.”

No amount of television coverage can do justice to just how dry the course currently is, and with the weather set fair for the next three days the grass certainly won’t get any greener. Throughout East Lothian, from Dunbar to Kilspindie, the golf courses have taken on a burnt colour and texture – with the fairways rock hard and the greens running lightning fast. As the day wore on, it became increasingly difficult for the players to get the ball to stop within six feet of the hole, and we saw various different combative methods throughout the day – not least with Tiger attempting to putt from the fairway around 30 yards from the hole on the 18th.

With the early starters benefiting the most from the overnight watering of the green, those teeing off at the beginning of the day tomorrow should post the lowest scores.


2. Muirfield is the classiest of links courses

Picking the top links course in Britain is virtually impossible, but even after just one day Muirfield has underlined its status as one of the very best. Not only is the course outstanding, providing the very best players with the heaviest of golfing headaches yet rewarding those who play well, but it is also visually stunning. To walk across to the outer edge of the course and soak in the views across the East Lothian coastline with the Firth of Forth in the background on a glorious July evening is an unparalleled pleasure.


3. The fans are in fine form

Given that we are currently in the middle of a working week, Thursday’s turnout was nothing short of excellent, with thousands pouring through the gates and stumping up the £70 admission fee to watch the day’s play. East Lothian seems to be packed with passionate, knowledgeable golf fans and it makes the tournament all the better.
It is very hard to not act like a small child on Christmas Day when you get to see Tiger hit a golf ball. 4. Watching Tiger is an experience in itself

At around 2.45, you could see flocks of people crowding around the first tee and fairway to watch Tiger Woods hit his first tee shot in the tournament. After a very dubious start, with Tiger pulling his opener into the thick rough, the 14-time major champion began to find form and showcase why he is a unique figure in the game. 

I was lucky enough to get as close as anyone to his tee shot on the 10th and it is very hard to not act like a small child on Christmas Day when you get to see Tiger hit a golf ball. There are good reasons why he is the one that everyone wants to watch.


5. My first Open Championship

Small confession, this is the first Open Championship that I have covered in an official capacity, and after one day I am engrossed. There are fewer better places to be at the moment than in the heart of East Lothian, and I don’t doubt that I’ll be saying exactly the same come Sunday evening.


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