Trio Tied in Augusta
The inaugural event holds the distinction of being the last full-field event of the season. As such, it will see a lot of jockeying for positions as players do their best to finish in the top-90 with exempt status for the coming season.
Thirty-six-year-old Morris of Middletown, Ohio - one of a foursome that made the 42-hour drive from Portland to Augusta - led the field today with her opening round of 5-under-par 67.
Morris was clearly in good spirits later in the afternoon. When asked with whom she had driven, the first round co-leader joked with reporters: Ive been sworn to secrecy. Im not allowed to tell anybody.
I really wanted to play this week, because I graduated from South Carolina, she continued. So it was pretty important for me to get here. So my only option was driving. And fortunately I had three other people as stupid as I was to go.
Morris, winless on the LPGA Tour, was the first player of the day to finish in the 60s. My job today was fairly easy, she said. Its just, youve got to hit it in the right spot. You hit some shots off line and its going to make it pretty difficult.
It was a round that started off with bogey on the par-4 1st. Then she quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies on the next two holes. The trio of birdies that followed left the 13-year-veteran making the turn in 32 strokes. When I make putts Im going to shoot low numbers because I generally drive the ball well,' she said. 'Im really pretty solid with my irons. I hit a lot of greens. So my biggest problem with my game is the putter comes and goes.
Prior to today, Morris best finish this season was a tie for ninth at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic. Her career-best finish was recorded at the 1996 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic where she finished second behind Joan Pitcock.
Morris is currently 110th on the money list with $49,137.
Fellow American Odegard recorded an error-free round. She was the first to match Morriss score. Like Morris, Odegard made the long drive from Portland. Forty-one hours later she was at her home in North Carolina, where she spent exactly one day.
I got in on Sunday, spent 24 hours there, and then came down here Monday night, the five-year veteran said. When Im home for one day it seems like a month. I think doing that helped me quite a bit.
Odegard needs to play well this week, as this has been a disappointing year. The Virginia native has missed the cut in 50 per cent of the events shes has played in this season and is currently 107th on the money list with $52,055.
Floridian Diaz quickly matched Odegards efforts by opening with 6-under-par 66 error-free round. I felt pretty good about my round today, Diaz, currently ranked seveth on the money list, said. Went out with no expectations and finished with a 67. So ... pretty happy with that.
Nancy Scranton, Kris Tschetter and Grace Park finished just off the mark at 4-under-par 68. The threesome is in good position heading into Round 2.
Pros dont always know what theyre getting into with a first-year event, and this was especially true of this week's event. But they know now that Augusta had a very hilly course with undulated greens stimping at lightning fast speeds (10.5) in store for them.
Mount Vintage GC is a course that demands accuracy off the tee and deftness on the green, as many a player found out.
You have to be accurate with your iron shots, Annika Sorenstam said Wednesday while discussing her game plan for the week. I figured you should be short of the pin on 16 of 18 holes. I would rather have an uphill putt than a downhill putt. Sorenstam recorded 1-under-par 71 today.
Jen Hanna and Diana DAlessio had a very tough day. Both finished tied at 8-over-par 80. Hanna recorded seven bogeys while DAlessio finished with 10 bogeys and two birdies.
Play was suspended at 5:10 p.m. with 76 players yet to complete their round.
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.
“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.
Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.
Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.
“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.
“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”
It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.
“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.
“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”
This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.