Notes Harried OHair Opens in 73


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Playing golf has always been the easiest part for Sean O'Hair. His first round in the British Open was no exception. After the travails he went through to get to St. Andrews, O'Hair seemed at home on the Old Course with a 1-over 73 that started out looking even better.
The 23-year-old rookie qualified for the Open four days ago when he won the John Deere Classic. The only problem was he didn't have a passport.
Sponsors of the John Deere went out of their way to fly O'Hair back home to Philadelphia, then pulled some connections with the White House to expedite a passport process that usually takes weeks.
O'Hair got in one practice round Wednesday, then was 2 under on the front before making three bogeys over his final seven holes.
'I had three three-putts on the back nine and that really killed me,' O'Hair said. 'So I am pleased with 1 over, but I think I could always do better than that. My goal tomorrow is to get it back in the red, and I think I know the golf course well enough by now to do that.'
Caddie Chuck Mohr walked briskly up nearly empty streets Thursday morning toward the Old Course. It was 5:45 a.m., and he and his boss, Bob Estes, were in for a long day.
Estes was the first alternate at the British Open. He had to be at there for the first tee time at 6:30 a.m., and couldn't leave until the last group went off nearly 10 hours later. Cleaning out his locker soon after, Estes had an empty feeling, especially after flying in from Texas on Monday with no guarantee of playing.
'The only thing that would have bothered me is if they called my name and I wasn't there,' Estes said.
He didn't get a tee time, but Estes got plenty of respect for going the extra mile -- about 6,000 in this case -- for a fleeting chance to play in golf's oldest major.
'I pretty much didn't think I'd get in, but I had to be ready,' said Estes, known for meticulous work habits. 'We got up really early. We were on the practice ground at 6 a.m. and doing a warm-up just in case, barring anyone getting sick or hurt. The next possibility would be somebody oversleeping and missing the morning tee time.
'The rest of the time,' he added, 'I've just been here in the clubhouse or eating a meal.'

Estes flew over and went through 36-hole qualifying in 1990, the year he missed the cut. He finished three shots out of the playoff won by John Daly in 1995. He tied for 20th in 2000.
'It was expensive coming here, but it was worth it,' Estes said. 'I've played three Opens at St. Andrews. A lot of people would kill for just one. This is the world championship of golf. I know there are four majors, but this is the top of the list.'
At least Estes got in one round at the Old Course on Wednesday. And he wasn't about to come all the way to Scotland without playing some more. Estes said he would watch the rest of the first round from his hotel room, have dinner at his favorite Italian spot, then look for a game Friday.
'I'm thinking of going over to Kingsbarn,' he said. 'That's supposed to be nice.'
Once happy-go-lucky, Chris Riley never looked so subdued after such a good round. He made a rare birdie on the Road Hole for a 68 that left him two shots out of the lead.
Then again, Riley has not been himself all year. Some suspect a fallout from the Ryder Cup, when he was lampooned for telling U.S. captain Hal Sutton he was too tired to play another match after teaming with longtime friend Tiger Woods in a rare American victory.
But Riley attributes his lackluster play to adjusting to life at home. His wife gave birth to their first child just before the Ryder Cup.
'I haven't been having the best of years, but I've been spending a lot of time at home with the baby,' Riley said. 'My game has suffered a bit, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's a great time in my life, but the adjustment has been tough. I just worry too much on the road about the kid.'
Riley acknowledges he's lost his hunger, but expects it to return next year, when he's no longer is guaranteed a playing card. He is exempt on the PGA Tour for one more season because he was on the last Ryder Cup team.
'Fatherhood has definitely changed me,' Riley said. 'I'm trying to find the hungriness I once had, but I'm enjoying life.'
Englishman Steve Webster was the only player besides Tiger Woods to reach 6 under on Thursday.
Unfortunately, that was after nine holes.
After finding six bunkers on the back nine, he wound up at 1-under 71.
'It's one of those courses,' Webster said. 'If you hit the fairway, you've got a chance to make birdie. If you don't, you're just coming out of the bunker sideways.'
Webster made eagle on Nos. 5 and 9, and added two birdies on the front nine to reach the turn in 30.
'The crowd was beginning to gather and the TV cameras were coming,' Webster joked. 'I obviously saw my name up there on the leaderboard and I was playing well. I should have got a quick picture of it.'
The Road Hole provided plenty of entertainment, as usual. Duffy Waldorf was 1 under for his round when he made triple bogey on the 17th. Zach Johnson was even par until taking a 9 and shooting 77.
But not all the shots were bad.
The most spectacular moment came when Nick O'Hern and Steven Webster each hit into the bunker in front of the green. O'Hern went first and blasted out to about 2 inches. Not to be outdone, Webster hit his bunker shot to 4 inches.
Even so, the par-4 17th played as the toughest hole with an average score of about 4.6.
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