The big names get pounded at the first day of The Open at Royal Portrush. It seems that most of the favourites except for Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia struggled to keep it together. Shane Lowry was at the top of leaderboard for most of the day until afternoon player JB Holmes stepped up with a minus 5. The rest of the names at the top is a virtual list of known, but not ultra-popular, players who might have the staying power to win the Claret Jug.
Thanks for Darren Clarke for starting The Open with a birdie. Clarke played well over all and finished even par for the day. The highlights of the morning were topped by Emiliano Grillio’s hole-in-one on the 13th hole. There were many ‘other’ scores during the day, but none as damaging as the two for Rory McIlroy.
Of course the top of the list of favourites failing early was Rory McIlroy. He did not recover from his opening quadruple bogey and finished at the near bottom of the leaderboard with a plus 8. I am surprised to see him start so poorly, yet with all the pressure of playing in Northern Ireland it is not surprising. Then to finish with a triple bogey was very shocking. I do feel for him because I have been there and it is completely demoralizing. Rory will have to respond with a JB Holmes like round on Friday just to make the cut.
Other notables way down the leaderboard are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Bryson Dechambeau, and Xander Schauffele. They all struggled at various points during their round and need to play very well on Friday, like Rory, just to make the cut. This not really all that surprising, but it seems to be news nonetheless.
On Friday, two things have to happen to correct the path many of the players are on. First, the players at the top need to be patient and focus on steady play. The cannot win The Open on Friday, but they sure can lose it. The players listed above need to press their game. They need to increase their risk/reward course management style in the hopes of shooting a low enough score to make the cut.
The Open has not disappointed; the course is fantastic, the weather was reasonable and the scores as expected. Friday is going to be great and I am looking forward to tuning in to the action.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!