Borrego on Top at Great North Open
Andrew Raitt, Nicolas Vanhootegem and Bradley Dredge share second place at 4-under-par 68.
Borrego broke into red figures early as he opened on the back nine at De Vere Slaley Hall Golf Club. He birdied his first three holes and added birdies at 15 and 17 to make the turn at 5-under 31.
The 30-year-old played steady on the inward nine but did not make birdie until the 349-yard fifth hole. Borrego ran home a 25-foot birdie putt to seal his round of 66.
Borrego won the Madeira Island Open in March but he has struggled since. He has missed two cuts out of four and also withdrew after an opening-round 77 at the Open de France. Borrego's finishes in the two cuts he made were a tie for 74th at the Deutsche Bank Open and a joint 56th at the Volvo PGA Championship.
The Spaniard thinks he has solved his problems and it all started on the tee.
'I had problems with my driver over the past few weeks but I have worked hard on it with Manuel Piero and it has paid off,' said Borrego. 'He has worked with me for about seven years and he knows my swing so it gave me a little bit of confidence.'
Dredge shared the lead as he played his final hole, the 18th at De Vere Slaley but he took a double-bogey six to drop into a share for the lead.
A double-bogey at the last is an all too familiar occurrence for Dredge as he carded the same score on the 18th hole in the final round of last year's event to drop out of the lead and fall into a tie for fourth.
'I bet my caddie Rick that I'd make par today so I'm a fiver down as well as being 4-over par for that hole for the last two times I've played it,' said Dredge. 'I'm going to have to make a big effort tomorrow. Maybe I'll go double or quits with Rick.'
Raitt was happy to finish in second place considering he was not even in the field at the beginning of the week. He was headed to the International Luxembourg Open on the Challenge Tour when he was notified by officials to take the place of Spains Jose Manuel Lara, who withdrew.
'I had just got off the boat in Calais when the call came through so I turned around and headed back,' said Raitt, who made it to the course two hours before his scheduled tee time. 'I've played here lots of times and I know the course well so there were no problems.'
Vanhootegem is riding a winning streak into the Great North Open. He won the Aa St Omer Open on the Challenge Tour last week, which ended a string of four missed cuts in a row on the big tour.
'I knew I needed just one good score, one good performance and my confidence would be back to where it should be and that happened in St Omer,' said Vanhootegem. 'I shot a 67 in the third round and then a 65 in the final round to win and Ive carried that on there this week.'
Roger Wessels, Marcus Knight, Gregory Havret and a pair of European Tour veterans - Des Smyth and Andrew Oldcorn - share fifth at 3-under-par 69.
Andrew Coltart, the 2001 champion, opened his title defense with a 1-over 73.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 146th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Royal Birkdale, broken down into daily segments:
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.
Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.
The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.
“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”
Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.
But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.
“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”
Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”
There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.
It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.
“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”
Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.
According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.
Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.
This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:
Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).
Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).
Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.
Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.
Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.
“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”
Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.
“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”
Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.
On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.
That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.
“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”
Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.
More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.
Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.
Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.
“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”
Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.
He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.