2014 Open Championship, Day 1
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/18/14
The excitement and joy accompanying the opening round of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool was dampened by two major news stories — the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over the war-torn eastern Ukraine, and the launching of a major counter-terrorism operation by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza.
Rory roarsRory McIlroy grabbed the solo lead on Thursday, continuing his resurgence with a bogey free 66 that included consecutive birdies at 5 and 6. Excellent weather and low winds made it possible for him to nab birdies on the par-5s at Royal Liverpool. His 66 represents McIlroy's best result at the majors in almost two years — and the "Holywood Matinee Idol" knows it:
"It's not like I've shot good scores in first rounds and haven't backed them up before; I'm used to doing that. I just haven't done it recently. We'll see what tomorrow brings and what weather it is and try and handle it as best I can.
Tiger returnsIn only his second tournament following microdiscectomy surgery on March 31, Tiger Woods overcame two early bogeys (and a tenuous par-save at the 4th) to surge to a 69, three shots off McIlroy's lead. Woods lit up the second nine like a Christmas tree, reeling off birdies at 11, 12, and 13. Following a bogey at 14, Woods took two more birdies back from Royal Liverpool.
In defense of the titleThe "champion golfer for the year" in 2013, Phil Mickelson had a much tougher time of it on Thursday. "Lefty" suffered a bogey at the 7th, then righted himself to get to -1 for the round with consecutive birdies at 9 and 10. But he struggled to tread water, mixing bogeys at 13, 14, and the last to get into the clubhouse at +2 74.
The race for Low ItalianEdoardo Molinari and his younger brother, Francesco don't really have similar golf games. But on Thursday, they both carded 68s by playing largely mistake-free golf. Edoardo bookended a bogey at 12 with birdies at the opening and closing ends of the course. The younger Francesco suffered a bogey right out of the gate (followed by another at the par-4 14th), but got it back not only with four birdies, but also with a lovely eagle at the last.
Unfortunately for them, those excellent 68s were eclipsed by fellow countryman Matteo Manassero, who did as Tiger did, lighting up the par-5s with three birdies. Overall, he sandwiched seven birdies with a pair of bogeys at the 9th and 12th to get in with a 67. Especially impressive was his third shot from the fairway at the first hole, after escaping a pot bunker:
It's not easy being The Big EasyAs we showed you early Thursday morning, Ernie Els had a disastrous start to his 24th Open Championship when his opening tee-shot hit a spectator squarely in the face, spilling a scary amount of blood. Shaken by the experience, Els tripled the opening hole, then bogeyed the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 12th. A late birdie got him into the clubhouse with a 79, but The Big Easy was not taking it easily:
"There was blood everywhere. It was like a bullet coming at him. I obviously felt pretty bad about it. It wasn't nice. I was trying to hit it left, and should have told the starters to move the people back on the left side, but I didn't do that."Gentleman that he clearly is, Els made sure his unintended victim was taken care of:
But having shot an opening 79, Els may not make the 36-hole cut and been seen on the weekend. And in a comment that may have been only half-joking, Els told reporters that he may have "put the jinx" on playing partners Mickelson (74) and current Masters champion Bubba Watson, who limped into the clubhouse with a see-saw 76.
The contendersIn addition to the aforementioned Molinari brothers, Sergio García, Jim Furyk, and Adam Scott all shot 68, as did two up-and-coming stars, Shane Lowry of Ireland and Brooks Koepka, a 24-year-old European Tour player who hails from the non-Irish-speaking part of Florida.
Golf writer Eamon Lynch (himself from Northern Ireland) had this excellent quip about Koepka and his fine play in recent majors:
The 'Everyman' from LiverpoolLast week, we told you about John Singleton, a resin factory worker from nearby Birkenhead who qualified for this Open Championship the old fashioned way — he earned it. Singleton shot 78, but not before his bosses and co-workers shut down the factory and showed up at Royal Liverpool to cheer him on. Regardless of whether or not he makes the 36-hole cut, Singleton was rightfully enjoying the experience and smiling like a cat at a fish market:
"I shot 6 over, it feels like I shot 6 under. I just played in the Open Championship.
Read an interesting golf article? Tip Your Editor!
Image via Twitter, The Open Championship
[ comments ]
no comments posted yet.
[ post comment ]