The Open: Round one live notebookMarch, 2015
Pictures and thoughts from the opening round of the 143rd Open Championship
8.30pm – Pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose was neither positive or negative about his even-par round today, simply stating that “even par always feels like a waste of five hours.”
The Englishman also didn’t receive his driver until the third hole as it had made it halfway to Bedford last night. Two drivers had been made up for Rose’s caddy’s friends, and one of those was mistakenly put in Justin’s bag ahead of the day’s play. Fortunately, no damage was done as he didn’t need it until the 7th tee.
8.20pm – Ever the optimist Phil Mickelson insisted that his two-over 74 was the ’best I’ve hit it in over a year’.
The defending champion was going along nicely at one under after 12 but then had back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14 and then went out of bounds at the last.
But there were still plenty of positives, despite sitting outside the top 80 players.
“I had as much control over the ball as I’ve had in a long time, whether it was working cuts or draws into the wind or shots off the tee. Certainly the score sucks but my game is as good as it’s been in a long time,” he said.
“If you look at the scores comparatively to the morning it’s really not that bad a score. I remember back in Troon in 2004 I shot 74 the first day in pretty benign conditions and came out the next day and shot 66 and got right back in it.
“I’ve been saying my game is a fraction off for a while now. And I feel now that I found the last fraction.” MT
8pm – Ernie Els admitted that he was ’kind of finished’ after hitting a spectator with his opening tee shot.
The two-time champion pulled his driver and hit the fan right in the face before missing a one-foot putt and then also missing the back-handed return.
“There was blood everywhere. I felt pretty bad about it because I was trying to hit it left and I probably should have moved the people on the left side.
“I was quite rattled, it wasn’t nice and I was kind of finished. I started missing short putts and it was a nightmare. I just hope the gentleman feels better because he looked really bad when I left him there.”
Els played the front nine in seven over before rallying to come home in level for a round of 79. MT
7.45pm – Local hope John Singleton gave his friends and fellow work mates plenty to cheer about in his opening 78.
Singleton works in a local varnish factory and his fellow workers were given the day off, and had their tickets paid for, and their talented colleague opened up with an incredible eight pars.
The going got a little harder on the back nine but it failed to dampen his spirits.
“I just went blank on the 1st tee, I was more focused on the unbelievably shaky hands. It’s probably the best shot I’ve hit under pressure,” he admitted.
Singleton only lives down the road in Wallasey and he was full of praise for his boss, Jonathan Kemp, who gave everyone the day off.
“He’s a great one, I had a beer with him last night to say thank you. He basically said to me I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anyone not to come back to work on Monday.” MT
7pm – A temporary stand at the side of the 15th – actually in someone’s back garden – has a fairly raucous gathering who ask for players to wave as they walk past. Adam Scott and Justin Rose duly oblige on their way to carding 68 and 72 respectively. The crowds have thinned out but there was still a healthy number on the 18th to cheer the World No.1 and 2013 US Open Champion home. Jason Dufner, just chilling in the background, helped himself to a typically nonchalant 69. JS
5.15pm – Henrik Stenson has work to do after an opening level-par 72 which contained a bit of everything.
The Swede, second last year (and third and fourth in the most recent PGA and US Opens), reached the turn in a relatively low-key 35.
He then birdied 10, almost holed his approach at 11 and then putted off the green at the next, turning a birdie chance into a six. At the penultimate hole he hooked a driver, failed to escape the rough with two hacks, snapped a club over his leg and then got up and down for a bogey. MT
5pm – Has another hour really just slipped by? Apparently so. The feverish excitement out on the course has been replaced with something a little calmer, but people have been out in the heat all day and that would wear on anyone. The wind is also a little stronger now than it was earlier, which could explain why several of the late starters are struggling to get it going. No such worries for Adam Scott though, who moves to -4 and is making everything look effortless. JT
4pm – Adam Scott gets his round going with an eagle at the par-5 5th to get to -3. There are not many on the course who make it on to the first page of the leaderboard but there are a lot of players yet to reach the turn, they include Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood who are two under. Els hasn’t recovered from his opening hole shocker and is seven over through 8. Meanwhile, some spectators have had enough of traipsing around the course and have headed to the tented village where you can get burger and chips for about £12…
3pm – Spent a bit of time at the 1st tee. Got there about 30 seconds too late to see Bubba, Mickelson and Els. The latter taking a seven after hitting a spectator with his tee-shot before missing a one-foot backhander. Not too many drivers being hit but World No.1 Adam Scott was among those to pull out the big dog after waiting for one spectator helplessly attempting to stop her phone from ringing. Of those to go with the 2-iron, best shot was easily that of John Daly showing fellow Americans Keegan Bradley, Russell Henley and Kevin Na how to find the middle of the fairway. If you are visiting Hoylake at all this week, spend some time in the grandstand at the 1st, it’s a great vantage point to see what the players face at the start of their rounds. JS
2.30pm – Rory McIlroy has just given his reaction to a stunning -6 round today. He said that despite the forecasts of storms tomorrow, the weather isn’t on his mind as he looks to address the problem he seems to have with playing golf on a Friday. He really did play well today though and even half as good tomorrow should keep the Northern Irishman right up there. The bookies now make him the clear favourite to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday. JT
1.30pm – We should also have a word or two about the general atmosphere here at Hoylake because it is quite something. The weather is glorious, there is nothing more than a light breeze drifting in off the Irish Sea and the conditions for golf are about as perfect as you could wish for. I spent some time earlier sat behind the 13th tee and there was a real cross section of people out there. We had young and old, men and women, golfers who seemed to know everything and those clearly picking the game up as they went. There was also a group of four Lancastrians who polished off two bottles of champagne, six cans of Stella and a punnet of strawberries before lunchtime. JT
1pm – I’ve just come out of a press conference with the ice-cool clubhouse leader Matteo Manassero. The Italian carded a round of 5-under today, making seven birdies in total. His open record since winning the low amateur title back in 2009 is modest to say the least, but he played wonderfully today. I’m not sure there is anything particularly Italian about Hoylake, or the Wirral for that matter, but we have Manassero and both Molinari brothers inside the top 5 as things stand. Ben fatto l’Italia! JT
12pm – Followed our opening group of Robert Karlsson (-3), David Howell (Level) and David Duval (+2) over the closing holes. Karlsson had a birdie putt at the last which just lipped out but he was happy with his three-under 69. A lot of talk afterwards about the 6.25am tee off time.
Karlsson: “I didn’t want to set the alarm before 4am so 4am it was. The stands were full, it was impressive. I wouldn’t have been there.”
Howell: ” I set my alarm for 4.15 and woke up naturally at 4.11 so that was a bit of a result. I was debating whether to snooze for those four extra minutes.” JS
1130am – Ten players share the lead at -3. Many of them are proven winners. There are currently slightly more players over par than under, which surprises me if nobody else. All I would say about that is that if they can’t go low today in these hot, still conditions then they are highly unlikely to do so tomorrow when we’re expecting gusts of up to 30mph. Looks to me as though Tiger is swinging very nicely and according to MT, who is with his group, you should expect him to finish the day in red figures. He’s currently +1 through 9. DM
11am – Very classy five-way tie or the lead at this embryonic stage. Karlsson, Furyk, Fowler, Garcia and McIlroy share the lead. Fair bit of Ryder Cup expertise there. No one has got to -4 at any stage still. Tiger looks to be swinging nicely after an indifferent start. Not such good news for Messrs Poulter and Clarke. They are +3 and +2 respectively/ DM
1030am – No one has got to -4 as yet but Robert Karlsson has posted the first round of presumably many in the 60s this week – a 69. Without wanting to get carried away this has the feel of being a great week with an awful lot of top players in contention. Rory McIlroy has started well, moving to -2 through five. You sense his test will be tomorrow, when the wind is expected to get up. He has much to prove about his game when the conditions are less than perfect. DM
10am – Woods, Stenson and Cabrera are currently a combined +6 and all over par. El Pato went out of bounds at the 3rd with his approach which didn’t please him hugely. Garcia has eased to -3 and joins Edoardo Molinari at the head of affairs. Currently propping the field up is the Amateur champion Bradely Neil who threw a seven in at the long 5th. Of 54 players out on the course, only 19 are currently under par, which is slightly surprising. DM
930am – Tiger and Rory are on the course. Woods/Stenson/Cabrera must be the coolest group we’ll see today, although it must be said the Argentinean is carrying a little more timber than the other two. Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia birdies two of the first three holes (hitting the pin on the 1st with his approach) to join the group of early leaders at -2. Thus far, it is not quite the birdie-fest we were expecting in what are perfect conditions and barely a breath of wind. DM
9am – No one wants to be sitting in the media centre on a day like today but it does give you a very good feel for how the course is playing. The numbers are constantly changing but at a glance you can see the red numbers are those under par, blue means over par and green is level. There are four people constantly going up and down ladders to keep the leaderboard bang up to date. JS
8am – It’s a glorious morning here at Hoylake and the crowds are out early to get a taste of the action. David Howell hit the opening tee shot at 6.25am. The first birdie of the day came from the third group as Chris Wood made a three on the opening hole. You can get a decent idea about the weather in the image below as Paul Lawrie, Justin Leonard and Ben Curtis putt out on the third green. JS
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