SANDWICH, England – Mark Calcavecchia made his annual appearance on the leaderboard Thursday at the Open Championship.
The 51-year-old showed up Tuesday afternoon at Royal St. George’s from California, played only five holes Wednesday morning in a practice round and declared himself ready to compete. The result was an opening-round 69, including a bogey on the final hole.
Calcavecchia, oddly, has always had an appreciation for the Open Championship, saying that even if he didn’t win the event in 1989 at Royal Troon, he still would consider this his favorite event of the year. He loves the atmosphere, loves the tradition, loves the bounces and links golf’s quirky nature. He has more of an affinity for it now because it’s the only major championship in which he has status.
“I obviously want to play well the rest of the week and just take it day by day and see what the weather brings us,” Calcavecchia said. “I promised myself I wouldn’t get mad and just do the best I could every hole. So, one day down and three to go.”
Last year at the Old Course – his least favorite course on the Open rota – Calcavecchia shot 70-67 the first two days to stick around the top of the leaderboard. In 2009 at Turnberry he did the same with 67-69 but faltered during the weekend. In 24 career Open starts Calcavecchia has made 18 cuts and opened with a round in the 60s six times, including a 66 here at Royal St. George’s in 1993.
The plan Wednesday morning was for Calcavecchia to play a practice round with Cheeseheads Jerry Kelly, Steve Stricker and Mark Wilson. But the wind was so strong and the conditions were so tough that none of the three showed up on the first tee. Calcavecchia gave it a go on his own but was behind two groups of four players.
“One, two, nine, 17, 18, see ya,” Calcavecchia said.