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Friday, July 16, 2010

Well, We Wanted It Interesting

The first day of a major always packs a few surprises. One we expected is the luck of the draw -- it's rare that the morning wave and the afternoon wave get the same kind of weather, and we saw that Thursday. The morning wave got a 4mph breeze (Tom Watson said "the old lady was naked") while the late starters got 17mph winds. (And more wind is predicted for Friday, so the short end of the draw may not get a chance to even things out. That's Open golf for you!)

John Daly at the OpenHowever, did we really expect John Daly to be the low American in the field with a 66 (T3)? (And it could have been lower, as some well-struck putts lipped out. As it is, I understand that it's his lowest round in an Open.) I'm going out on a limb and say "No." But it's a good story to get this tournament underway, and it gives it a little extra "buzz" the way the Watson story did in 2009. I feel like I should mention that Rocco Mediate is helping ESPN this week, and he says he's played with JD several times this year and has been expecting him to win, that JD really has improved that much. It's something to watch, for sure. (The pic is from a story posted at ESPN's website. Click here to read their summary. Don't you just love the pants?)

Likewise, did we expect Rory McIlroy to tie the Open course record of 63 and nab the first-round lead? (Of course, since they said they're tossing out all the old records since they lengthened the course, that's not saying much, is it? ;-) He admitted that he realized that sinking his putt on 18 would have beat the record... and that the knowledge may have helped him miss. (At least he's honest.) As with JD, the 21-year-old's bid for the Championship adds another storyline.

Tiger is also in the mix, posting a 67 (T8) for his best showing in the first round for some time. Granted, he had the advantage of being in the morning wave (as did JD and Rory), but this is a good sign that Tiger may be finding his way back into form.

And while I hate to say it, it's no surprise that Phil finished at +1 (T96), making a single birdie, a double bogey, and 16 pars. He didn't even stop to talk to the media guys when he finished, which I take as a measure of his disappointment since he always talks to them. Maybe Phil just tries too hard, but we've come to expect him to have trouble at the Open. I'll cut him a bit of slack because he was in the afternoon wave.

But so was Lee Westwood... and he matched Tiger's 67 while playing in the wind, including a 5-birdie run on holes 5-9. He's definitely in the hunt.

Good rounds were also posted by Y.E. Yang, Vijay, Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Ernie Els, and Dustin Johnson (nice bounceback!), to name a few. All-in-all, there were 44 rounds in the 60s Thursday.

We won't be seeing that the rest of the way. That's one surprise from which I think we're safe.

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