Good Open at The Open for Tiger

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- A little rain took the fire and fear out of Royal Liverpool. Still intact was the strange nature of the British Open, such as the peculiar path Tiger Woods took toward the top of the leaderboard Thursday.
 
He started by missing a par putt from 30 inches and finished by making an eagle putt from 25 feet, giving him a 5-under 67 to leave him one shot behind Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
 
Graeme McDowell
Tiger Woods may grab the headlines, but Graeme McDowell has the lead after Day 1.
Along the way, Woods took two shots to escape a pot bunker, had to bend a shot around a signpost after marshals tried in vain to twist it loose, and hit the fairway the one time he decided to hit driver. That was the 16th hole, and the ball landed in the 17th fairway.
 
'You can make birdies out there,' Woods said, showing that in a myriad of ways. 'And, obviously, guys are doing it.'
 
McDowell made six of them without losing a shot, and his 66 broke by one shot the course record set by Roberto De Vicenzo in 1967. Then again, that was the last time the British Open came to these forgotten links south of the Mersey River.
 
And as tidy as his round was, even McDowell had to endure a bizarre moment at the British Open.
 
He was in a pub Wednesday night when a local lad recognized him, asked for his autograph, then gave him a swing tip.
 
'He said, 'You get it pretty laid off at the top, don't you?' And I said, 'Yeah, I guess I do.' He said, 'Get a bit of work done on that, will you?' ' McDowell said. 'I was kind of joking with the guys, if I shoot 66, I guess I'll be wanting to see that guy on the range Friday morning.'
 
The biggest surprise of all was the change to a crusty course that had caused consternation early in the week. It had been so brown and brittle that the Royal & Ancient asked that two fire engines be allowed inside the gates in case the links caught fire.
 
Instead, rain showed up overnight and caused a 30-minute delay in the morning because of lingering thunder. It hardly flooded the century-old course, although it didn't take long to notice the difference.
 
'Nobody expected the course to be like this,' Jim Furyk said after his 68. 'It's just a day where you need to post a good number and keep up with everyone else. The biggest change I started seeing was when I fixed a ball mark. I knew the scores would be good then.'
 
And they were.
 
For those concerned that Royal Liverpool could not hold its own against the best players and their titanium toys, the best anyone could muster in relatively benign conditions was McDowell's 66, the same score that has led after one round at the last two Opens.
 
It was the 67 rounds under par -- 32 of them in the 60s -- that got everyone's attention.
 
Since the PGA TOUR began keeping records in relation to par in 1956, the highest number of sub-par scores in the first round of the British Open was 59 at St. Andrews in 1995. No other major has had so many low scores in the first round.
 
'If it hadn't rained, it would have been unbelievable for four days,' Fred Couples said after a 70.
 
Greg Owen of England, the hard-luck runner-up at Bay Hill, was among four other players who joined Woods at 67. The baker's dozen at 68 included Ernie Els, Mike Weir, Adam Scott and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman.
 
Phil Mickelson, trying to put his U.S. Open collapse behind him, soared to the top of the leaderboard before cooling over the final eight holes, missing two greens in spots he knew were forbidden to take bogeys. He finished at 69.
 
'I've just got to execute better,' he said.
 
Els figured scores might have been lower if players were not so cautious about the first round.
 
'You don't want to shoot yourself out of it the first day, so you're not taking as many chances,' Els said. 'It's not the hardest course we've ever played because of the weather. But there's enough trouble out there where it makes you really think on every hole.'
 
Not all the names atop the leaderboard were familiar, another tradition at the British Open.
 
One of them belonged to Anthony Wall, the son of a London cab driver whose only European tour victory came in South Africa. He made two eagles on his way to a 67, and didn't see anything surprising about being in contention at only his second major.
 
'No reason why not,' he said. 'I have two legs and two arms. I played some good golf. You need the luck, that's the main thing. And here I am.'
 
Perhaps the craziest round belonged to Mark Hensby, one of 23 Aussies in the field. He hit a 2-iron out-of-bounds on the third hole and took triple bogey. He rebounded with nine birdies the rest of the way and joined the crowd at 68.
 
McDowell shot into the lead with three straight birdies, none more unlikely than holing a bunker shot on the par-3 ninth. He had to settle for a birdie on the par-5 16th after hitting 4-iron to 15 feet, then lost a chance for birdie on the par-5 18th when his tee shot found the rough. Still, seeing his name atop the gold-and-black leaderboard behind the 18th green was sweet.
 
'I just want to be up there on Sunday and enjoy myself coming down the last hole,' McDowell said.
 
Woods was pleased to see his name so high on the board, too, considering his forgettable episode the last time he played in a major. With consecutive rounds of 76 at Winged Foot, the world's No. 1 player missed the cut for the first time as a pro in a major championship.
 
The defending champion at the British Open now looks like a good bet to become the first repeat winner since Tom Watson in 1983. It was the sixth time Woods has shot 5 under or better in the first round of a major, and he won four of the others.
 
Asked about his confidence, Woods replied, 'Shooting 67 makes me feel good, yes.'
 
Then he headed for the practice range, still needing to sort out some mechanics in a swing under constant scrutiny. One piece of criticism came 18 months ago from six-time major winner Nick Faldo, while working for ABC Sports.
 
Woods and Faldo played together, and while the photographers crowded into position for the big showdown, all they got was a handshake. Faldo then turned to the gallery and tapped his cheek, signaling they had kissed and made up.
 
Faldo, however, missed one putt after another and was 10 shots behind Woods, shooting a 77 his worst opening round at the British Open since he opened with a 78 at Carnoustie in 1999.
 
The day was a mad scramble for the lead, a Daytona 500 with cars four-wide in the turn. Woods was a late arrival with his birdie-par-eagle finish. What saved him was a couple of pars, however, particularly on the 14th. From right of the green in tall grass, with only 8 feet of green to land the ball, he chopped at a flop shot and it stopped 5 feet from the hole.
 
'I had three potential birdie holes. I didn't want to drop a shot there and go back to 1 under,' he said. 'It was nice to hit that save and keep the momentum going, and I finished off the round very well.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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    Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

    The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

    ''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

    Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

    ''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

    Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

    ''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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    Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

    In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

    Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

    Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

    Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

    ''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

    Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

    ''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

    Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

    Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

    ''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

    The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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    Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

    Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

    Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

    Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

    Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

    One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

    On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

    "I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

    Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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    Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

    Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

    And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

    Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



    Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.