Birdies And Bogeys
July 13, 2011
Birdie: Thomas Bjorn
Eight years after his 16th-hole implosion on Sunday at Royal St. George's, the 40-year-old Dane exacted a small dose of revenge on the golf course with his opening 65. It wasn't quite the same as walking away with a claret jug, but Bjorn's name atop the leader board was still a poignant sight.
Bogey: Ben Curtis
One man's curse is another man's blessing, or at least that was the case in 2003 when Bjorn's gaffe opened the door for Curtis' stunning maiden victory. On Thursday at Royal St. George's, a 77 was reminder enough that Curtis, having dropped to 194th in the world ranking, is now eons removed from that magical week.
Birdie: Tom Lewis
The 20-year-old amateur from Welwyn, England -- the same hometown as six-time major champion Nick Faldo -- was one of the few players to take advantage of relatively placid afternoon conditions on Thursday. Playing alongside his hero, Tom Watson, who he was named after, Lewis' five-under 65 might have made him a surprising co-leader, but perhaps not as much when considering his past success at Royal St. George's. He won the British Boys Amateur at the course in 2009. He is, however, the first amateur to lead the Open since 1968.
First Tiger Woods shows up at a press conference with some whiskers, then Kyle Stanley and Lucas Glover scale the Open leader board with some growth of their own. If the trend continues, don't look for a Gillette title sponsorship on tour anytime soon.
Birdie: Rory McIlroy
Two bogeys in his first three holes served notice McIlroy wasn't in Bethesda anymore, but his gritty opening 71 here, in which he played the final 15 holes in one under, was impressive nonetheless. After a U.S. Open when McIlory did almost everything right, he proved he can still respond when things occasionally go wrong.
Bogey: Louis Oosthuizen
The same player who appeared unflappable for four days at St. Andrews had a lackluster start to his title defense at Royal St. George's, finishing at two-over par. Not that it was a total surprise. Since his win in the Africa Open in January, Oosthuizen can boast of just one top 10 on both the U.S. and European tours combined.
Birdie: Kyle Stanley
If you're looking for the next Ben Curtis, perhaps Stanley is your guy. Like Curtis, who earned a late berth in the field in '03, Stanley earned a spot thanks to his runner-up showing at the John Deere Classic last week. He made the most of his late entry with an opening 68.
Bogey: Past Open Champions
It wasn't an uplifting day for several players who have their names engraved on the claret jug. The foursome of David Duval, Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, and Mark O'Meara shot a combined 28-over par in the first round, an argument that the past should never be confused with the present.
Birdie: Peter Alliss
One of the great charms of the Open Championship is a chance for American audiences to enjoy the lyrical commentary of the great Peter Alliss, who splits time between ABC and BBC broadcasts. Alliss makes the rest of us sound dumb by comparison, all while making us smarter in the process.