by Jeff Skinner
The first round of the Open Championship is in the books and a great day it was indeed. Royal St. Georges lived up to its billing as a unique layout and we got to see plenty of golfers tested by the ups and downs and the bumps and humps, not to mention those bunkers. Those things are painfully deep and anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves beached knows the anguish of those sandy par killers.
We want excitement in our major championships and the first round of The Open certainly delivered. While Rory McIlroy stuttered at the start he recovered well to keep himself in the tournament.
Early in the day it looked like the Senior Open as “forty plus pros” Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez turned back the clock and led the field. Bjorn is looking to exorcize the demons that stole this Open from him in 2003. He played excellent golf with 7 birds against 2 bogeys and only needed 25 putts. He wasn’t even in the field until Vijay Singh pulled out and he is making the most of it. “I wasn’t really expecting to be here but then there were a lot of pull-outs in the last week,” said Bjorn.
“I came on Sunday night and Monday wasn’t the greatest of days. But, when I got in (on) Monday night, it gave me a couple of days to prepare and I promised myself to try and enjoy it.” Marten Dempster gives us his take on Bjorn and his fairytale start.
The only thing cooler than an Open Championship morning is Miguel Angel Jimenez. The only thing cooler than Jimenez is Jimenez near the top of the leaderboard in a major. Jimenez strutted his way to a bogey free 66 and a tie for second place. He’s called the Mechanic among other nicknames but we all know he’s The Coolest Guy in Golf. He was ready to light up his trademark cigar during his post round interview and couldn’t wait to go shopping with his boys. You see, while Miguel is a world class golfer, his life isn’t all golf. Afterwards he was asked what he would do the rest of the day and it looked like a full schedule. “First thing I’m going to do is going to eat,” said Jimenez “and then I’ll probably hit some balls, some putts, go to the merchandise [tent] with my sons to find some shirt with the logo. Like a human, no? I want to buy also a shirt for me. I am a fan of the Open, too, you know, apart from a player.”
He’s a man of many interests and while golf is one of them it isn’t the end all. He is passionate about golf for certain but he is more passionate about life. “There are more things to do in life than golf the ball” he said. Check out Cameron Morfit’s piece on MAJ.
The Cinderella story of the day belongs to 20-year-old amateur Tom Lewis who shares the first round lead with Bjorn. The Lewis family’s passion for golf is evident each day. Bryan Lewis named his boys after his heroes Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. How cool is that? So young Tom plays with “Old Tom” and he dusted him pretty good, 65-72 but Watson was amazed at his namesakes play. “Tom Lewis. How about that? He could be my grandson. We had a few conversations today. I said, ‘Do you still go to school?’ He said ‘no’ but one of his teachers was jogging along the 14th hole and said hello. “I had to smile inside watching him play. I didn’t play particularly well myself but I certainly was impressed by the way he played.”
Young Tom, Lewis that is, was thrilled to play so well but was quick to acknowledge that it is only round one and he’ll be trying to stay focused for the second round. All of the excitement wasn’t lost on Lewis and he thoroughly enjoyed being paired with the master of the links. “I played well today, got a lot of cheers for Tom, but I think at first they were for Tom Watson and then towards the end I was playing so well I think they were cheering for me.
“It was excellent playing with Tom. I introduced myself to him on Tuesday. I saw him doing a few interviews on the 18th. He was a really nice guy, put his arm around me and asked how old I was. It was nice to play with him today, just a great, great experience.” Take a look at Kevin Garside’s profile of the Cinderella at The Open.
What were the odds on Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson being low Americans? About 300-1 I bet. Love that Darren Clarke is in the mix at -2. The biggest disappointment of the day had to be Phil Mickelson. He failed to take advantage of the easier conditions and while even par is still in the mix he couldn’t put it together: 12 greens in regulation, 7 of 14 fairways and 31 putts isn’t going to cut it.