Stanley arrived at Royal St. George’s after an overnight flight from the United States, eager to play in his first major championship as a professional.
He earned the British Open spot with a runner-up finish Sunday in the John Deere Championship, making up for the disappointment of squandering a two-stroke lead over the final two holes.
“I’m feeling good,” Stanley said after getting in 11 holes of practice, followed by a session on the putting and chipping greens. “There’s a lot of positives that came out of the last four days.”
The biggest one of all was getting to play in the British Open. Stanley didn’t learn he was in until he had signed his scorecard.
“I thought I had to win,” Stanley said. “But it’s a nice consolation. Any time you earn your way into a major, that’s a good thing.”
Steve Stricker won the Deere for the third year in a row with an amazing finish on No. 18. From the lip of a greenside bunker, he pulled off a shot that landed about 25 feet from the flag, just off the green. Then he made the birdie putt to beat Stanley, who took a bogey at the final hole.
The 23-year-old Stanley qualified twice for the U.S. Open as an amateur, but this feels different. He’s a pro now, a guy who has shown he can be a contender even though he has limited experience at links golf.
“I’ve played it a little bit,” he said. “It’s a lot of instinct, a lot of feel.”
HAPPY TO BE HERE: Anthony Kim missed the cut in the AT&T National and set aside the next two weeks to work on his game in what has been the worst season of his young career. His plan was to go to Michigan this week to spend time with his swing coach, Adam Schriber.
Instead, he spent Monday playing a practice round at Royal St. George’s. Kim got into the field as an alternate when Tim Clark withdrew, and he hopes to make the most of it.
“I wasn’t sure I would be here after the stretch I’ve had,” said Kim, who has only one top 10 this year and has missed the cut a career-high eight times. “I’ve just had one or two bad swings that prohibits me from going forward. I was going to Michigan this week, but any time you get a chance in a major, you want to be there.”
Kim said he is tired of getting the same questions – “What’s wrong with your game?” – and giving the same answers.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I feel like my game is coming around,” he said. “To put it mildly, it’s been a frustrating year. I finished sixth at Torrey Pines, and that was a joke. I putted that week like it was a video game – I made everything. And I played OK in Houston. I was like 13th, but at that point, any time I played on Saturday and Sunday, that was good for me.”
The biggest change for Kim is his hair. He hasn’t cut it since January, and he’s hard to recognize.
“I’m going to let it grow long enough where I can do something crazy,” he said. “You’ll just have to wait.”
FOLLOW THE RED DOT: When Louis Oosthuizen blew away the field in last year’s British Open, he gave credit to a small red dot on his glove.
He might break it out again at Royal St. George’s.
Oosthuizen used the dot to improve his focus, and it sure worked on the way to a dominating victory at St. Andrews. He’s employed the technique off-and-on since then.
“Some weeks I feel like I’m wandering out there again and I do use it,” he said. “I haven’t lately, but you get in a few days where you’re struggling just getting into the moment, and you might see it back on the glove.”