Women’s Open Off and Running on Unusual Day
The Women’s British Open will have to go a little ways to match the quirkiness and unpredictable turns of events that the men’s version offered, but they’ve made a good start. In terms of golf and predicting a winner, don’t even bother with it until sometime around Friday, unless someone is leading by ten.
At the end of the first round, Hroo Joo Kim leads by one – that’s not so terribly surprising. She’s not just a nobody who’s come out of nowhere. It’s good, and a little unusual, to see Cristie Kerr back in the hunt at minus 6, but that’s only mildly surprising. So Lydia Ko is one back at minus 6 – yes, sounds like a good British Open, just the way you’d expect it to go. Pettersen is three back – check. Azahara Munoz is at the same score – makes sense, no problem. But, the Open is not without its surprises and distinct features.
One of the first items of interest has to be the course itself. At first glance, one might describe Turnberry as they would describe any quaint, rural Scottish course, filled with previously unlived nostalgia and a sense of fantasy for golfers who have never been there. The course, however, gets as close to the coast as it possibly can, a sort of Scottish Pebble Beach, out onto a gnarled rock outcropping. The fairways have their own particular sort of wave to them, and the picturesque Scottish coast features an iconic lighthouse that doesn’t just look like everywhere else in the Ayreshire region, in the southwestern part of the country. When I see photos and video of players on the course, I get the feeling that they are getting to be alone with their own thoughts, not just being portrayed that way for the sake of tourism. I voyaged along that coast once on a German freighter, and was salivating to land and walk on those outcroppings. Unfortunately, it never happened.
One of the more interesting holes of the day was played by Morgan Pressel, which in itself is not a surprise, either. Last year, four albatrosses were carded on the tour, and Pressel notched the first one for this year, with a fairway wood shot of pretty decent length. An albatross, for those who have never heard of one, is three under for one hole, one better than an eagle. Her card featured 2 double bogeys, 4 bogeys, 3 birdies and 1 albatross.
As it turned out, the day produced another albatross, at least in the minds of some, both North Americans and Scots. The famous and infamous Donald Trump landed at Turnberry during the first round, to the delight of the crowd and players who stopped to watch as his helicopter set down. Lydia Ko was particularly impressed, and exclaimed that she would certainly love to have one of those. Play her cards right, win a major, and perhaps she could hitch a victory ride.
Then it occurred to me. To the dismay of some in the golf world, and to more than a few Scots, Turnberry isn’t just Turnberry. It’s Trump Turnberry – no wonder they let him land. He owns the place. All that nostalgia and picturesque coastline suddenly looked a little different to me. Trump got his wish. A major is being played on one of his recently purchased and “upgraded” courses. That sets the Open apart just a bit.
The one thing no one could provide, other than the customary “stiff breeze” off the sea from the east, was the full wrath of Mother Nature, as in sideways wind that carry a putt as far as a mid-iron. There are three days left, though, so stay tuned. The second round will tell us more about the actual golf, but until then, we’ll have to wait for Donald to get bored and fly away, Pressel to hit some normal fairway shots, and see if someone will challenge Kim for the Open championship trophy. There’s still lots of time to match the men this year.