American Major Winner Spieth Makes Excellent Start
There are many stories at this year’s British Open. First of all, what set this one apart from others of past years, is that it was an absolutely beautiful day in Scotland at St. Andrews. That fact alone might have been enough to shake up some scores, just out of the pure shock of it. The morning starters got the best of it, but in general, the sunshine held, and the wind restrained itself just long enough for some excellent scores to reach the clubhouse. British meteorologists, however, assure us that it’s all a trap. The nasty stuff is coming back very soon, and if you didn’t get some good scorecard work in during the first round, it’s not going to be so easy again, at least not until the weekend.
For all the millions of Spieth watcher around the globe, the young American did well. There’s something about the first round that requires that one stay in the conversation, whether you lead or not, and Spieth sits at two back, having shot a 67 by birdieing five of the first seven holes. I guess that shoots the theory of warming up with the Scottish Open the week before the British. Apparently, no matter where you play the week before, winning is the best practice of all, and Spieth won’t be regretting his week at the John Deere Classic for a while.
Dustin Johnson, who is sitting in the lead at 7 under, has made some distinct improvements on his performance at the U.S. Open, particularly on par 5s, the first of which he eagled.
And then there’s Tiger. What are we gonna do with Tiger? What’s Tiger going to do with Tiger? It felt as though this should have been a good week for him, but ballooning to four over on the first nine of the first round is no way to begin an Open, especially one where you’ve been victorious in the past. To his credit, he played the back nine four strokes better, at even – but with all due respect, that’s no way to begin an Open that you hope to win, either. In fact, that’s just no way be Tiger, period.
The early leaders looked like a who’s who of who’s that? David Lingmerth, the Scandinavian, doesn’t sound mean enough to lead a major international tournament, but there he was, at one point reaching 7 under, and taking the lead. A few others toyed with the same thing, but no one stuck throughout the day.
For our nostalgic element of this year’s Open, or perhaps axe-grinding for some, Tom Watson began his last one, and he took the opportunity by starting it under par – for a little while, at least. He forgot who he was, or who he used to be, however, on the back nine, and double-bogeyed 13 and 16 to sink back into a group of also-rans.
Bubba Watson, who is outspoken about his distaste for links courses, did pretty well with this one, coming in at 3 under. Maybe the beautiful day changed his mind.
It is the local meteorologist, however, that holds all the cards in this Open. Who among the favorites can play the wind? That might determine the fate of the next two rounds, at least. St. Andrews doesn’t sit where good weather lasts for long, and “beautiful day” comes around about as often as “You’ve won the Irish Sweepstakes.”
For Spieth, just doing what he’s doing seems to work fine. For Dustin, keeping his happy association with British par 5s will make this a good Open for him. For Bubba, keep swinging and ignore your temper. For Tiger, that’s just a mystery for the ages.