2016 British Open: Thursday Birdies & Bogeys

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2016 British Open: Thursday Birdies & Bogeys

July 14, 2016

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Birdie: Phil Mickelson

Though Mickelson is enjoying a bounce-back campaign in 2016, he struggled in the year's first two majors, missing the weekend at the Masters and U.S. Open. We'll go on a limb and say that won't be the case in Scotland, after Mickelson fired an eight-under 63 on Thursday. Lefty, who finished third at Troon in 2004, hit 16 greens and needed just 26 putts on the day to become the ninth player to shoot 63 in Open history. -- Joel Beall

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Bogey: Phil's Birdie Putt on 18

Phil's oh-so-close putt was eerily reminiscent of lip-outs from Nick Price at the Masters and Tiger Woods in the PGA, which both resulted in their endeavors for 62 falling short on the 18th green. Mickelson's roll is evidence that: 1) There are golf gods and 2) They really don't want to see a 62 in a major. -- JB

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Birdie: Patrick Reed

Reed’s resume is filled with major woes, not that you would know by his round on Thursday. The 25-year-old started his week by holing out from the fairway for eagle on the third, then carded five birdies on the day to finish with a 66. The figure briefly equaled Royal Troon’s record for a first-round Open score, and put Reed atop the leader board until being replaced by Mickelson. Forget logging his first top 10 in a major; Reed has the claret jug in his sights. -- JB

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Bogey: Bubba Watson’s triple at the 8th

Standing on the eighth tee already at five under, golf’s longest hitter faced the Open’s shortest hole. This fight went to the little guy, and it was a knockout when Watson found the famed Postage Stamp’s Coffin Bunker. Lucky to even have a stance, Watson knocked one over the green, flubbed his first pitch and two-putted for a triple bogey that would have him tumble from the top of the leader board. -- Alex Myers

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Birdie: Rory McIlroy

Following his candid -- some would argue controversial -- comments earlier in the week, McIlroy might've felt the pressure to let his play do the talking. The four-time major winner answered the call, firing a first-round 69 at Royal Troon. For most of the morning, McIlroy was in total control, sitting four under through 12 holes; unfortunately, a double at the 13th and bogey at the 14th knocked him back to earth. Still, after his weekend troubles at Augusta and a no-show at the U.S. Open, it’s an opening round McIlroy desperately needed. -- JB

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Bogey: Jordan Spieth

Spieth failed to capitalize on advantageous scoring conditions thanks to his troubles with the flat stick. His uncanny short-game dexterity -- he entered the week first on tour in putting and 12th in scrambling -- was nowhere to be found on Thursday, as the 22-year-old finished with an eye-popping 33 putts. He didn't knock himself out of the tournament with an opening 71, but he has a lot of work to do, and a lot of names to pass, to get himself in contention at Troon. -- JB

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Birdie: Justin Thomas

Thomas is making his Open Championship debut at Troon, but it's far from his first rodeo. The 23-year-old, who posted a first-round 67, has been one of the best players on tour in 2016, ranking seventh on the money list and ninth in FedEx Cup standings. Birdieing the first four holes vaulted Thomas to the top of the leader board, and though his card wasn't spotless -- he doubled No. 15 and made bogey at No. 10 -- he successfully scrambled for multiple pars on he back, including a hole-out from the bunker on the 11th. Thomas has proved he doesn't shrivel from the spotlight, finishing third at the Players Championship this spring. Don't be surprised if he makes some noise this weekend. -- JB

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Bogey: Jason Day

Just like at the U.S. Open when he started with a 76, the World No. 1 has put himself in a tough spot with a ragged two-over 73 to begin his march at Troon. The score, which included four bogeys, was particularly disappointing given the benign conditions and the number of other top players making the most of what is predicted to be the best day weather-wise of the week. Of course, Day worked his way back into the mix at Oakmont. To do that again, though, sounds like a big ask given the way Day analyzed his game after hitting only 10 of 18 greens in regulation: “Right now I’m trying to hit a certain shot and it’s coming out the opposite.” -- Ryan Herrington

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Birdie: Martin Kaymer

Kaymer quietly cobbled together a bogey-free 66 for his lowest opening round in the Open Championship. The 2014 U.S. Open champion seems to be rounding into form with five top-15 finishes in his last six starts. Though he only has one top-10 in the Open Championship -- in 2010 at St. Andrews -- he’s a major name lurking going into Friday. -- Dave Shedloski

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Birdie: Louis Oosthuizen’s ace

Holes-in-one are supposed to be fluky. Albatrosses simply aren’t supposed to happen. But somehow, Oosthuizen continues to do the improbable at major championships. Already with an albatross and an ace at the Masters (the latter coming earlier this year when his shot ricocheted off J.B. Holmes’ ball), Oosthuizen made a hole-in-one on Troon’s 178-yard 14th. Unfortunately for the South African, that was the day’s lone highlight... -- AM

Bogey: Louis Oosthuizen’s round

It wasn’t awful, but shooting even par in perfect conditions wasn’t what Oostuizen had in mind when he teed off Thursday morning. Throw in a 1 on any hole and that 71 becomes even more disappointing. But despite only two bogeys, the South African incredibly wound up with more aces than birdies in his round. The 2010 Open champ and 2015 runner-up is going to have to flip that unusual ratio if he’s going to contend for another claret jug. -- AM

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Birdie: American Dominance

Despite what you gather from the 2016 Open Championship scoreboard, Royal Troon does, in fact, reside in Scotland. Germany's Martin Kaymer is the only non-American among the first-round leaders at Troon, and Yankee Phil Mickelson tied a championship record with a 63. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised; after all, the past six Open winners at Troon have been from the U.S. -- JB

Bogey: Dustin Johnson

Troon was supposed to be a course Johnson would tear down with his length. That’s what makes his even-par 71, which leaves him eight back of Phil Mickelson, pretty disappointing on a calm day at the British Open. The World No. 2 fanned his tee shot on the short par-4 opening hole for a bogey and couldn’t get anything going. There’s time to make up the ground, but Thursday was a prime day for DJ to make noise. -- Stephen Hennessey

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Bogey: Troon's 11th Hole

When Arnold Palmer called Troon’s 11th hole the “most dangerous” he’d ever seen, this is what he had in mind. On the 482-yard par 4 on Thursday, there were three 9s and just six birdies out of 156 rounds. And while the stroke average of 4.705 didn’t make it the toughest in major history (Shinnecock Hills’ 10th hole at the 2004 U.S. Open still holds that mark), if the wind starts to blow over the weekend -- which it’s expected to do tomorrow -- expect that stroke average to rise even higher. -- SH

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Birdie: Old Guys

No major allows players of a certain vintage (read: 45 and older) to have a better shot at contending than the British Open. It’s why there should be no surprise at seeing 53-year-old Colin Montgomerie, 53-year-old Vijay Singh and 49-year-old Steve Stricker go out and shoot 71, 69 and 67, respectively, Thursday. While Troon isn’t playing firm and fast, it also isn’t playing particularly long, allowing veterans to stay in contact with their younger peers through solid ball-striking and smart play around the greens. -- RH

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Birdie: NBC/Golf Channel

Whether you look at Fox's coverage of the last two U.S. Opens as innovative or disastrous, the return of the NBC/Golf Channel crew to major golf coverage was refreshing nonetheless. From Johnny Miller in the tower, to veteran course reporters Roger Maltbie and David Feherty, to the reworked theme music by Yanni, the first round at Troon -- NBC's first at a British, and Golf Channel's first in any men's major -- was comprehensive and entertaining without being overbearing. The lone miscue? Not dragging Miller, he of the most famous 63 in golf, in the booth when Phil Mickelson was poised to break his record. -- Sam Weinman

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Bogey: David Lancaster and Matt Corker

Look, these guys did nothing wrong in their debut splitting duties replacing legendary first tee starter Ivor Robson. Their inflection was perfect, their pronunciations spot on. Their lone sin was in NOT being Robson, who worked his final Open in 2015 after 41 years providing his distinctive high-pitched introduction of players. And it's worth remembering that Robson did it all by himself, whereas Lancaster was replaced by Corker midway through the round. -- SW

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