ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – A triple bogey would throw most golfers into a deep funk,especially at a major championship.
Not Paul Casey.
The Englishman was thrilled with his round at the British Open on Friday, even with that 7 he made on the par-4 17th hole that knocked him at least one spot down the leaderboard. His 3-under 69 Friday left him at 6 under for the tournament, six strokes behind early leader Louis Oosthuizen. Rory McIlroy, who shot a 63 on Thursday, was playing in the afternoon.
“To be honest, I’m not even that frustrated with what happened on 17,” Casey said. “If you had told me I’d be in the clubhouse on 6-under, I would have bitten your arm off, especially with the conditions we were warming up in this morning in the wind and the pouring rain. Yeah, I’m very happy with that.”
Casey’s been fighting a scratchy throat, but the heavy rains and cool temperatures didn’t appear to bother him as he opened with three straight birdies and made the turn at 5 under for the day. He couldn’t get any lower on the back nine, but he wasn’t giving any strokes back, either.
Until the 17th, that is.
The blind tee shot isn’t the Road Hole’s only challenge. The rough on the left side is so thick a small child could get lost in there, and Casey’s tee shot sailed right into it. Going forward was only going to get him deeper in trouble. But the Old Course Hotel – and all of its big windows – made a sideways shot tricky, too.
“If I went at it too hard and it came out, I could end up in Room 312,” Casey said. “So the club just went straight underneath it.”
He finally got out by going backward, but then three-putted.
“So pretty easy,” he joked. “An easy 7.”
Casey took out whatever anger he might have had on the 18th tee, driving almost to the steps of the clubhouse that sits behind the 357-yard hole. With about 100 feet to the hole, he putted to within 5 feet and knocked that in for birdie.
With the winds howling in the afternoon – play was suspended because of high winds – Casey was quite comfortable with where he is going into the weekend. He has one top-10 finish in his previous eight starts at the British Open, tying for seventh at Royal Birkdale in 2008.
“I read the Tom Watson quote about, `Whatever she gave away today, she’ll take back tomorrow.’ I believe that with links golf,” Casey said. “It’s about hanging around. I’d be very impressed if Louis and Rory keep popping in scores like that. If they do, good luck to them.”