Charley Hull and Secret Weapon in Wild Week

Hull Makes Good Start at British Open on Familiar Course

Charley Hull took a good step toward redirecting the week’s news back to playing golf after some troubling snafus during the week. For a little while, she even took an early lead, but that is less important for a first round than being in the upper group at day’s end. Only days ago, a passport snafu with Lexi Thompson put in play a domino effect of unfortunate events involving papers, packing, clubs, and lost practice time for forty players. None of it was criminal, mischievous, or malicious. It was one of those “crossed wires” things we have all done, and I am sorry for Lexi and everyone else that it happened the way it did.

On  a far more nefarious note, PGA player Thorbjorn Olesen was arrested at Heathrow Airport on charges of sexual assault on a flight, refusing to obey crew commands, and other distasteful acts that one might more likely see on a frat party flight to the Bahamas. That was a criminal, mischievous, and malicious set of allegations, and one can only guess at what will happen next in Olesen’s near future. Fortunately, as onlookers we have been rescued by Charley Hull, who finished with a five under 67 at the Woburn course in England.

Hull, as it turns out, has a secret weapon. She all but grew up on the Woburn course, at least since the age of eleven.  She probably has an intimate relationship with every blade of grass on that course. That doesn’t automatically mean that one is a shoe-in for glory. She has played the Open before on the Woburn course, turned in a score under 70 on the first day, and ended up tied for 17th. The next three days are a long journey indeed for an upper group first round player. Still, it was fun to see the young woman from nearby Kettering experience old times. News report claim that she has gone shopping to stay relaxed, and that fiance Ozzie Smith considers that a disaster in the making, citing Hull’s liberal spending habits.

Who does Charley Hull need to fear the most from here on out? Nearly everyone. If statistics are to tell any story, there is some firepower among those who tied her first round, or surpassed it., not to mention those not far behind. There are also unfamiliar faces who may get their day in the sun. Ashley Buhai of South Africa is the first-round leader  at 7 under. She was a rookie in 2008, is rated at 123rd by Rolex, and has four career top tens – way to go, Ashley.

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Danielle Kang of the U.S. is at minus 6. Her rookie year was 2012, with earnings of 4 1/2 million in seven years. She is rated 14th. Hiraoko Shibuno of Japan is a blank slate, with no player profile on the LPGA board. The FBI probably couldn’t find her, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t scary. She is also at6 under, and didn’t get there by accident. But here it comes – Moriya Jutanugarn, a pro since 2013, with one victory, has 32 top tens, 6 of them lately. She is rated 14th. But wait, there’s more. Sung Hyun Park joined the pros in 2017, has won more than 5 million, has 7 victories, and is rated 3rd. She is tied with Hull, and I always count her in.

In the end, it may all come down to that secret weapon. There’s a lot of cellular memory that says “Oh, I beat so and so on this course in 2012 or this person in 2013. I won a junior match here.” Hull admits to a set of nerves, especially on the first hole that got her last time, the one with the big wide fairway. She suggests that missing such a fairway makes one feel quite silly. Sorry, Charley, I don’t get that one. There isn’t any fairway I can’t miss.

All we can do is watch Day 2 and compare notes on Day 1 to see how we all did. Still, thanks to Charley Hull for bringing it all back to golf.

 

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