Friday, July 15, 2011

The Open is exactly that this year.........

The wind blew on day one at the Open but the course failed to really show its teeth with many players making sub par scores and several taking advantage of the easier conditions in the afternoon. The highlight of the day was the fabulous 65 from amateur Tom Lewis pipping Dustin Johnson's ace at the 16th which salvaged an otherwise unimpressive round. Lewis was joined on 65 by a great cameo from Thomas Bjorn, a shot ahead of the cigar chomping legend that is Miguel Angel Jiminez and Ricky Barnes made the most of a last minute playing slot to card a 68.

Of the big guns and expected front runners it was a muted first day with many seemingly intent to play the percentages on their opening rounds with the conditions as they were, the old adage being you cannot win the tournament on Thursday but you can certainly lose it.

McIlroy looked a couple of percent off the pace and it was probably to be expected given his self imposed exclusion from competitive golf since his triumph at the US version. An opening 71 was far from a disaster and his game will surely sharpen over the next three days. Mickelson shot level par but again looked far from interested in the events at Royal St Georges. A bright sunny resort course it is not and whilst this blog may be proved wrong - and we would love him to do so - over the coming days, Phil's record in the Open suggests he is merely there to fulfill his sponsors' obligations and pick up some airmiles.

Martin Kaymer is well placed at two under despite forgetting his jumper and Graeme McDowell fought back well after a sticky start to shoot the same score. Ian Poulter has had a very low key build up and is well placed after a 69. World No1 Luke Donald could not hole any putts but is safely in the pack with a 71.

Honourable mentions go to Darren Clarke who enjoyed the later conditions to card a 68 and Mark Calcavecchia who rolled back several years to shoot 69. Tom Watson showed his ageless class with a 72 which included some fine shot making and some excellent putting.

The modern day PGA field has so much depth to it that it is impossible to predict a winner now that Tiger has been de-throned. Players such as Els, Westwood, Cabrera and Stricker cannot be ruled out but they will need to sharpen their games over the coming days. Friday's forecast is for fairer weather but the weekend may bring more rain and no doubt far more drama - No Nonsense.