Michael Walker Jr.,
senior editor for GOLF Magazine, live blogged the late action at Turnberry for the first round of the British Open Championship. Alan Bastable blogged the early play.Leaderboard | More updates on Twitter | Join SI GOLFNation
3:30 p.m. Getting ready to close down the Live Blog Headquarters for the day. Golf Magazine's Connell Barrett will be with you all day tomorrow. The winner of the What NFL Team's Colors Should Ben Curtis Wear at Turnberry" contest is JFB for the answer: "Ben Curtis... in purple and gold because he is no longer out of favre." Yup, we value clever at the Live Blog, even though I had to read it a couple times before I got the joke.Please keep the comments coming. Be nice to get a final Real Men of Golf list. Thanks to everyone for reading. See you later.3:22 p.m. Did Reader Vivek catch Tiger and Stevie in a Rules violation? Hole
#7..looks to me tiger putting from fringe and Steve attending the
pin..Isnt that rule breach? Check out highlight on open championship
website..We looked into this and Tiger is in the clear. Here's Rule 17-1: Before
making a stroke form anywhere on the course, the player may have the
flagstick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the
hole.3:16 p.m. Reader Da Observer writes: By da Observer's count you have used the phrase "British Open" 3 times. 2 more and you catch Ian Pouter. You'll have some splaining to do.Da Observer, I'm so glad you brought this up. I am a huge fan of the tournament known internationally as the Open Championship. In the U.S., we refer to this event as the "British Open," to avoid confusion with the U.S. Open, which is often referred to as "the Open" in the States. It's the same reason we say "soccer" instead of "football." We don't mean to offend you.BTW, I was really surprised to hear Ian Poulter call it the "British Open."3:11 p.m. Not much to watch live right now, but that's what happens when the first guys go off at about 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.3:10 p.m. It's a man's world for Boo Weekley, according to reader John.I'd put
Boo Weekley in the man's man category. He might not be everyone's type
of man, but I don't see him getting manicures and pedicures. Someone I
wouldn't put in that category is Davis Love III. Has always struck me
as a pretty boy.I like Boo and let's put Stewart Cink on the list too. Sorry, DL3, that's the price of your fancy clothing deal. We probably won't see any Adam Scott or Luke Donald nominations either.3:05 p.m. Turnberry fans, you've let down Friend of the Blog Dick Friedman.Garrity’s note about the patrons at Turnberry sitting in front of TV
screens, eating and drinking instead of dedicatedly marching around the
golf course is the most depressing thing I've read all day.
Having recently been to the new Yankee Stadium, this confirms to me
that the entire sports world is turning into a giant food court.3:02 p.m. TNT just showed some morning highlights of Graeme McDowell, 2-over today. McDowell made some insightful comments on Rory McIrloy last week. Rory evidently is a pretty good money player.[Rory] normally turns me over in practice
rounds.He's one of the best Tuesday players that I ever played with.
He's pretty good on the weekends, as well. Yeah, myself and Rory went
over a few weeks ago and he put a pretty good display on and took the
money. Enough said.2:55 p.m. Sports Illustrated's Alan Shipnuck didn't have any of the Tiger Kool-Aid they serve in the press tent. (By contrast, I imbibe freely.)Tiger Woods's nasty push into the burn on 16 is one of the worst shots
I've seen him hit in a major. Ever. He followed with a great
up-and-down to save bogey, and I'm not saying he can't still win, but
that skanky short-iron at 16 was a pretty ominous sign. Tiger's untidy
71 is of a piece with his play in the majors so far this year. There
has been an uncharacteristic inability to convert opportunities, and
we've seen more loose shots than what we're used to.2:52 p.m. I was wondering why the grandstands at Turnberry look so empty. Sports Illustrated legend John Garrity has the answer. Ticket sales are down sharply, due to the economy and the remote location. But also everyone's at the tented village enjoying the great weather and drinking lagers. What's it like? Imagine a giant outdoor pub with tasty beer, good stories and live golf on TV. No wonder no one goes out on the course.2:46 p.m. Is there anything harder to watch than Tiger Woods playing poorly? It's like watching dental surgery. One cringe after another.2:43 p.m. Reader Josh writes: The comment about Watson being a man's man? I think Jiminez belongs in that group too.Sure thing. I'd put Furyk, Harrington, Woods, Weir, Cabrera and Clarke in that group too. Who are we leaving out?2:40 p.m. Reader Tom is already writing off Woods at Turnberry, but he's looking at the bright side: Looks like 2007 for Tiger a year-end PGA Championship victory at Hazeletine ... then a monster 2010.Bogey on 18 for Daly, 2-under for the day. Pretty good. Prettty pretty good.2:38 p.m. Sleeper pick Zach Johnson is even par for the day. I saw him a couple weeks ago and he was fired up for Turnberry. "It's my favorite tournament inside the ropes. Outside the ropes is another story," Zach said. He meant the food. This is my favorite tournament too, but what they say about the food is largely true. I heard a British announcer on TV last night brag that you can get Chinese food and fish and chips at the same restaurant here. Like it was a good thing.2:33 p.m. 30-footer left for par for 3-under JD.2:30 p.m. Daly in the greenside rough on 18. Will have a tough par save. Daly's girlfriend is wearing a matching green harlequin-print skirt. Looks much better on her.2:25 p.m. Harrington's in the interview room holding the Claret Jug like it's his, because it is.2:22 p.m. Harrington finishes 1-under. Ogilvy ends up 5-over. Don't expect to see him on the driving range afterward. We worked on an Golf Magazine instruction story together and Ogilvy told me, "I don't get guys who go to the driving range after a bad round, if you're playing badly, why keep hitting bad shots?" 2:18 p.m. Nice effort on the eagle putt for Long John. He'll tap in for birdie, now 3-under.2:17 p.m. Furyk finishes 3-under. His kind of grimaces afterward. We'll count it as a half-smile.2:16 p.m. John Daly (2-under) is going to be looking at eagle on 17. Le Cork likes the look: Daly
looks like a lime dressed as Austin Powers looking for the world's
largest and grooviest gin and tonic. In other words, he might hang
around. 2:13 p.m. The other marquee afternoon group--Harrington (-1under), Furyk (3-under) and Ogilvy (4-over)--have played their approaches into 18. People are questioning Harrington's swing changes, but the three-time major winner is thinking like Tiger now. He sure sounds like him:Over the next ten years
I'll be very competitive and win plenty more tournaments. But
definitely -- I definitely sacrificed -- I've done it many times. We all do it, players. You sacrifice in the short-term so that you get
better for the long-term. 2:08 p.m. Just checked @stewartcink on Twitter. Here are some of his thoughts on the tournament so far.Stimp at T'berry around 10.5Best weather I've ever seen in twelve Brit Opens. And best course too. Lack of wind left course relatively defenseless. If wind blows there are plenty of defenses. Deep bunkers/rough.2:05 p.m. Daly (2-under) hits hybrid off the tee at 17. Course management from Long John, the original grip-it-and-rip-it man. Watch out! Though Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs' comments on Ian Poulter are ringing in my head: "You can't win a major wearing pants like that."2:00 p.m. Friend of the Blog Le Cork writes: Curtis
should wear eschew NFL colors and wear either Boston Celtics gear or
the soccer club Celtic from Glasgow. Because if you know your local
history, as you undoubtedly do Great Blogger, you know it's the Irish
who named Ailsa Craig and all the towns around Turnberry, which isn't
the name of a town at all. Give the dozen balls to Tiger. He looks like
he may need them. Ouch! Tiger, it wasn't me. Please don't stop taking my calls.1:57 p.m. In his post-round interview, Jiminez lights a cigar and holds the Claret Jug like he's trying to seduce it. I think I have a new favorite player. Players react differently to seeing that trophy. Mike Weir (3-under) wouldn't touch it earlier. Cink looked star-struck.1:53 p.m. Ogilvy, possibly the world's greatest bunker player, escapes the pot bunker left of the 17th green and has a shot a birdie after the TNT guys doubt he can even get it out. Ogilvy is 4-over, but he will keep grinding. He's like Tiger, relentless.1:52 p.m. TNT had a great post-round interview with Stewart Cink (4-under) this morning. Stewart was sitting three feet from the Claret Jug during the interview and he was ogling it like it was Megan Fox.1:48 p.m. Tom Watson said he didn't think 65 would stand. Tom Watson was right. Miguel Angel Jiminez just birdied 18 for a 6-under 64.1:45 p.m. Great tee shot by Harrington (even) on 17. The Little Pro Eddie Merrins says a guy who's struggling like Harrington can get his mojo back for a big tournament. If he does, you'll see it in his eyes.A player like that can find his sense of confidence pretty quickly. He really found himself last year. Remember how big his eyes were? Everything was falling into place.1:40 p.m. Nice bunker escape by Paul Casey after leaving his first shot in the bunker. The World No. 3 (no offense to Casey, but how is that possible?) is 2-under through 16.1:35 p.m. Harrington and Furyk make this game look like work. They've got the faces of coal miners out there. What's the over/under on smiles from these guys this week? Three?1:30 p.m. Reader TNTedium writes: Please,
with the TNT promos. Has anyone ever been more miscast as "tough cop"
than Dylan Mcdermott? That little pretty boy would melt with one stare
from "The Closer." Dylan McDermott, undercover cop. TNT - Very funny.BTW, Why didn't TNT give Charles Barkley a plane ticket to Scotland and a microphone? Would any sports fan not watch that?1:27 p.m. Miguel-Angel Jiminez is tied for the lead after birdies on 16 and 17.1:26 p.m. Sports Illustrated's Dick Friedman, a longtime Friend of the Blog, is looking for The Low Saltman. No, that's not the title of John Irving's next novel. Elliott and Lloyd Saltman are Scottish brothers playing as amateurs this week. Looks like Elliott's got the edge, he's 1-over through eight. Lloyd shot 75.1:22 p.m. One of the afternoon's marquee groups--Goosen, AK and Rory--just finished 18. Goosen is 3-under, McIrloy 1-under and AK is 4-over after a gritty birdie putt. Now Goosen is going to take them out for ice cream and soda pops.1:16 p.m. Swede Fredrik Jacobson is 4-under after a birdie 2 on 11. If I can't even spell Soren Hanson correctly most times, I'm going to be in real trouble with Fredrik Jacobson. 1:14 p.m. John Daly is three-under through 13. Hmmmmmm.1:12 p.m. Colin Montgomerie finishes with a 1-over 71. Next year's Ryder Cup captain Monty has been in a spat with Sandy Lyle this week. The source of the conflict appears to be Lyle getting passed over as captain. Remember all the Monty-Faldo grumbling last year? Something about the Ryder Cup captaincy turns these accomplished, wealthy, middle-aged Europeans into Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. 1:07 p.m. I like reader Brian's choice of NFL gear for Curtis: Curtis
should wear the Lions' uniform: like a golf ball at Turnberry, they
usually get blown away, frequently are lost in the weeds trying to
advance down the field, and get into deep holes they can't get out of.We may have a leader in the clubhouse for those Pro V1s.1:05 p.m. Tough day out here for AK (5-over) with bogey on 17. Goosen, now 3-under, after his amazing sand save. "He stole a shot from the field," Ian Baker-Finch (I think) says.1:03 p.m. Goosen (2-under) just made a ridiculous shot from against the side edge of a pot bunker on 17. Even in slow motion I don't know how he did it. Rory will stay 1-under after missing a decent run at birdie.12:58 p.m. Hansen double-bogeys 16 and he's now 3-under, two off the lead. My non-Tiger darkhorse pick for the Open, Rory McIlroy (1-under through 16), misses the green and will be hitting from the high rough over a bunker. Eddie Merrins thinks a young guy like McIlroy or Ishikawaka has a chance here: These boys think they're ready, now they have to prove it. Impossible? I don't think so at all.12:55 p.m.: Maybe the endless commercials part of a secret Scottish tourism campaign: "Come to Scotland for the Open Championship, because you can't see it on American TV."12:52 p.m. Reader John writes: Wow, where is the golf? More golf please and much much less talking heads and commercials please.John, you mean you didn't enjoy IMG at the Turn? Or Ernie Johnson interviewing a Scottish racecar driver? You wanted to see more golf? Weird.12:48 p.m. There's a reason that you see so many players come up short on their approaches at Turnberry, according to legendary golf teacher Eddie Merrins. Everybody talks about American golf being target golf, but it's also background golf. On every hole you have a background of trees and buildings and you can see the depth relatively easy. Think of our championship courses like Winged Foot and Merion. But links golf is very flat so you have no sense of distance. The smokestacks of a distant factory can look very close. The yardages are chartered, but often your eyes disagree.12:45 p.m. Ernie Els finishes with a 1-under 69. The game could really use a resurgent Ernie Els. He's got a rock star quality on the course and the fans really respond to him. But I don't know if it's ever going to happen.12:43 p.m. AK makes a double on 16 and he's back to 4-over.12:38 p.m. Reader Unbelievaboh has an answer to what NFL colors Ben Curtis would wear in Turnberry: patriots. can i have my pro v-1s now?C'mon, Unbelievaboh, you have to tell us why. That's the contest.12:36 p.m. The camera really does add 10 pounds. In person, Padraig Harrington's improbably thin. The big afternoon group of Harrington (1-under), Furyk (1-under) and Ogilvy (1-over) are playing like the grinders they are though 11.12:32 p.m. If co-leader Ben Curtis still had his clothing deal with the NFL, which team's colors would he wear at Turnberry? A sleeve of Golf Mag-logo Pro V1s to the best guess.12:30 p.m. Wish I could have seen the photographers around Tiger and Ryo Ishikawa this morning. I was on the practice green at the Accenture in Tuscon where they had their first meeting and the Japanese photographers turned the green into a rugby scrum. Security guys accustomed to Tiger's crowd were caught off guard. Ryo's 2-under 68 in that environment is pretty impressive. Maybe the camera got to Tiger? Nah.12:25 p.m. Soren Hanson is 5-under through 13, co-leader. It's that Hanson, he's so hot right now. The 5-under number won't last.12:20 p.m. Reader Dani writes: Please
Mr. Walker, if you are going to post the leaderboard and write -5 &
-4, post every names, you forgot my friend JimenezSorry, Dani, I just cut and pasted the top names on the board. Miguel-Angel Jiminez and Paul Casey are both 4-under as well. No matter what happens Jiminez will safely maintain the "coolest guy on the course" title. He looks like he could be the leader of a biker gang.Ben Curtis finishes with 65 to tie Tom Watson in the lead.12:15 p.m. Not many people in the grandstands. Kind of looks like a Pirates night game. They'll be full this weekend though.12:13 p.m. Reader EHB likes Boo Weekley, who shot 67 today: Boo has had a bad shoulder for a while - he's just getting back into playing form.We're big Boo fans at the blog, and despite his country-bumpkin persona, he certainly plays a lot internationally and he's no stranger to links golf. We also like how Boo struggled to make it to the Tour. "I played mini-tours for five
years, so I lived in the back of my truck, slept in the front of my
truck," Boo said at the Scottish Open last week. In fact, we found a photo of Boo from those days. 12:07 p.m. Whoops. Ben Curtis has just birdied 16 and 17 and is tied for the lead at 5-under.12:06 p.m. Leaderboard check:
anyone be "torn" between Watson and Daly? Watson is 59, one of the
game's great champions, and a link to the era of Nicklaus, et al. I
know you love the guy, but Daly is someone who almost completely
squandered his talent through inability to control his appetites. 11:44 a.m
______________________________________ 11:33 a.m. That's it for me. Thanks for reading. I leave you in the inimitable hands of Michael Walker Jr. Enjoy the action... 11:30 a.m. Ogilvy made a mess of the par-4 8th after losing his tee shot. A double-bogey there drops him to 2-over. His group moves on to the 9th, the only hole on the course without a bunker. Dang, that tee shot's pretty. With a curling coastline down the left, looks a little like the 18th at Pebble.
off the map for a while, but he's a top ballstriker at a ballstriker's
course, in a championship he's comfortable with. I doubt this will be
an afterthought this week." I don't know, PJ. Ernie could be an afterthought by dusk. He's been an enigma in recent years, with scores and finishes all over the map. I'd love to see him stick around, but despite his tireless efforts to regain his world-beating form, he's looked more lost than found as of late. 10:36 a.m. It's stunning how little of the actual tournament TNT is showing. I've seen more shots of Terry (Gannon) than I have of Paddy (Harrington). Is the preponderance of booth shots really necessary? Show me some golf already! A quick look at the scoreboard reveals a brigade of potential winners at 2-under: Els, Weir, Ogilvy, McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Paul Casey. Quite a group.
weather, Ailsa is the easiest course they play the Open at except for
the Old Course—especially for current-day players. So unless the wind
is strong every day from here on out, they'll go low. Trust Le Cork on
that one." 10:25 a.m. If you haven't had the pleasure, here's a look at Poulter's threads (courtesy of his Twitter page). It's never a good thing when your slacks match the rug.
10:19 a.m. Love Andres Romero, who's at 3-under through 8. Dude just has a way of showing up at the majors, and so far today this major is no exception. He bogeyed the second but then reeled off birdies on 3, 5, 7 and 8. I put him in the same mold as a Calc or a Hunter Mahan. When he starts making birdies, they come in bunches.
10:15 a.m. Tiger's turn with the press. He said the case of "the rights" he had on the course had also plagued him on the range before his round. Calling Hank Haney...
10:12 a.m. Watson addressed the media. "I feel inspired here," he said. "I feel like I'm playing well enough to win the golf tournament [even if] I don't have the confidence in my putting that I did 32 years ago. Still, a few putts might go in." They did today, and if Watson keep giving himself good looks, he should hang around. After all, he knows this track better than its greenskeeper.
10:06 a.m. Reader Tom Hacker is already thinking about the winning score. He likes 11-under. Much, of course, will depend on the conditions, but I don't see the boys going that low. The forecast looks good for the rest of today, but there's talk of wind and drizzle tomorrow. Predicting the weather beyond that is a futile task. I'll say the champ shoots 8-under.
10:01 a.m. Boo Weekley made par at 18 to shoot 67. Since his star turn at the 2008 Ryder Cup, Boo seems to have faded into obloovion. Love to see him around late on Sunday — not so much for his play, but for his press conferences. 9:58 a.m. Most cliched camera shot at a British Open: old guy in tam o'shanter snoozing in the fescue. TNT just obliged us.
9:54 a.m. Rory McIlroy, the bookies' favorite behind Woods to win this week, is off to a solid start. He's one-under through five holes, with a birdie at the second. By the way, Kim reportedly has complained of a pain in the neck. And he wasn't talking about the second hole. Seems he tweaked something.9:49 a.m. Thoughtful take on Tiger from reader Dan: "Is it me
or does tiger not really seem the same after his return from the
surgery. It seems his first round woes are starting to haunt him more
and more often. Looks like he has dug himself into another hole that he
doesn't seem to be able to climb out of. On a day when the course is
giving up a lot of good numbers, when you are the best golfer in the
world you should be able to shoot under par with the likes of Anthony
Wall's and Graeme McDowell's of the tournament. A lot of very good
golfers positioned themselves nicely today. i have a feeling Tiger's
first round will come back to bite him on Sunday."
Dan, I'm not ready to say Tiger can't dig himself out of this hole. He's just 6 back. But you're right. He's not the same Tiger. He still wins, but the titles don't come with the relative ease that they did years ago. He's more of a grinder, a scrapper. In some ways that makes him tougher to beat than ever, but the days of his 5-, 7- or 10-shot wins seem, at least for now, to be a thing of the past.
9:45 a.m. Kim birdied the par-4 fifth and hasn't missed a green since his train wreck on No. 2. Nice recovery, but he'll a handful more birds to claw back to par.
9:41 a.m. Scotsman Jackie Stewart, the legendary Formula 1 driver (and an avid golfer), joins the TNT boys in the booth. "I've never been to Turnberry on a day like today, where there's no wind," he says. He bemoans the fact that the golfers aren't facing "real" British Open conditions. I'll second that.
9:36 a.m. If there was any doubt that Tom Watson is a man's man, Golf.com's Charlie Hanger ends the debate with this wonderful memory ... "When I was about 14 or 15 I caddied for Tom Watson at an
annual charity tournament in Kansas City, my
hometown and his. On the first hole, a par 5, I was nervous as I could be.
Before his third-shot approach, he asked me to dig into that old Ram staff bag
and pull out his can of chew. Couldn’t believe the Kansas City Country
Club man wanted a dip, but he did. He subtly got the chew in place, asked me
for a yardage and stuck it about three feet from the pin. He handed me back his
club and said, 'Nice yardage.' Proudest moment of my golfing life."
9:32 a.m. BDawg asks about Anthony Kim, who is already 5-over through four holes. Kim had his troubles at the par-4 second where he found a pot bunker with his third shot and needed two hacks to get out. A few swipes later, he had a 9. It's a safe bet a player has never won a major with a quintuple on his card.
9:28 a.m. Alliss addresses Harrington's incessant swing adjustments, and I sense most golfs would agree with him. "I don't understand the tinkering," Allis said. "You can hone it, but if you can play, you don't tinker."
9:24 a.m. A dash of local color from Golf Mag's Cameron Morfit, who is on site at Turnberry: "Bubba Watson prepared for his first British start by playing the 12-hole (11-hole
now, thanks to a barricade in the way) pitch-and-putt course outside
the Turnberry Hotel,
with his wife Angie Ball, the former WNBA-er turned single-digit
handicap; Ted Scott, Bubba's caddie; and someone I didn't recognize.
They seemed to be having a ball in the fading light of a beautiful day Wednesday. He's got his work cut out for him to catch another Watson. Ian Poulter was hanging out at the end of the bar, a cap pulled over his head, at the pub in nearby Gervin on Wednesday night -- drinking water."
I don't know, Cam. With that outfit decision, Poults may have been sipping something stronger.
9:20 a.m. And Harrington is off. Iron off the tee at the first. Finds the fairway. He's playing with Jim Furyk and Geoff Ogilvy. Not to hard to imagine the 09 Open champ coming from this group.
9:16 a.m. Cink misses a lengthy par try at 18 and falls back to 4-under. Watson remains the sole leader.
9:13 a.m. Now I get why Angel Cabrera uses an interpreter. Jim Huber just attempted to interview Ryo Ishikawa, who gamely tried to answer in English. Aaaaaaawkward. Huber wound up answering most of Ishikawa's questions for him. Seriously, though—props to Ryo for trying.
9:10 a.m. David Duval shot 71 today. He has to be one of the most intriguing stories in golf today, but at what point can we say he's officially back? With everybody waiting for him to collpase at Bethpage, he refused, eventually tying for second. He has good British Open memories (winner, 2001). Look for him to hang tough again this week.
9:02 a.m. Speaking of the 17th, Cink birdied it to get to 5-under. He's tied at the top with Watson.
8:59 a.m. CapsFan 80 wonders,"Why did Tiger hit driver at all today?" It's a good question. Woods did say earlier in the week that he would use the big stick sparingly. His plan was to dissect Turnberry with his irons, as he did Hoylake in 2006. I'm not sure how many times he let the big dog bark today, but he certainly hit it on 17. Will try to dig up that stat.
8:56 a.m. Ian Poulter's outfit must have come from the gift shop at Glasgow Airport. He's in a sweater vest emblazoned with the Union Jack and red tartan pants. At what point does stylish become hideous?
8:53 a.m. I owe you a 50 spot. Woods hits his putt left and it stays left. That's a 71 for Tiger. Ryo and Lee post matching 68s. Good playing.
8:50 a.m. You won't catch Peter Alliss tweeting this week. "We've only just got gas in our house," he deadpans, "so I'm not ready for the Twitter."8:46 a.m. Tiger sticks one close -- let's call it 8 feet -- at 18. Fifty bucks says he makes it.
8:44 a.m. Another Nike guy, Stewart Cink, is worth watching. (Not that you have much of a choice—in his bumble-bee yellow shirt, you could spot him from across the Firth of Clyde.) Cink's at 4-under through 15, and seems to be striping the ball with authority. By his own admission, Cink can be mentally weak, and he's still scarred by his meltdown at the 2001 U.S. Open. Still, he's a better player than he was then. Love to see him in the mix come Sunday.
8:39 a.m. Woods's opening scores in his three Open wins:
He saved his par with a two-putt from 40 feet at 17, and if he can par the home hole, he'll finish with a 71. Yes, the man's got his work cut out for him.
8:34 a.m. There must be 150 photographers following Woods, Westwood and the third member of their group, Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa, who's like a Jonas brother in Japan. Ishikawa, by the way, is at 1-under. That's classy and commendable play with a media circus in tow.
8:30 a.m. Peter Alliss joins the telecast. "Tiger's going to have played absolute rubbish by his standards and still be in the hunt," Allis says. "But that is what he does."
8:25 a.m. Woods is all out of sorts. He blew his tee shot right at the par-5 17th then hit one of the worst fairway woods I've seen from him -- a weak pop-up, high and right. Tiger will be at one of two places after this round: the range ... or the pub.
8:21 a.m. There are a couple of interesting names in the clubhouse with 66s, one back of Watson—Steve Stricker and Camilo Villegas. Stricker is red hot, coming off a win last week at the John Deere, but but for all his fine play, in particular over the past few years, he's never won a major. Villegas hasn't won a major either, but golf fans know that day is coming. He doesn't have much experience on links courses, but that wasn't evident today. Curious to see how he holds up.
8:15 a.m. Reader Norm declares: "Tiger will not win the Open this year." If he continues to fight his swing like he is today, Norm, you're absolutely right. Thing is, Woods's game can be as fickle as the Scottish weather. He can look flat and frustrated one day and indomitable the next. Generally, if Woods can play two rounds at the top of his game (especially if one of those comes on Sunday), that's good enough to win.
8:10 a.m. Lee Westwood, playing in Tiger's group, also found the burn, then employed a bit of craftiness. Instead of dropping next to the hazard, he took his drop 50 yards back on the tee at 17. Clean lie, clean look the hole, and he sticks it to 12 feet. That's called making the Rules work for you. Woods, too, dropped on the 17th tee, though much closer to the 16th green. He stuffed his shot to 6 feet. Nice.
8:04 a.m. D'oh! Woods blocks it right (again), and dunks his approach at 16 into the greenside burn.
8:00 a.m. Woods continues his up-and-down round with a bogey at the par-3 15th. He then rebounded with a piped drive at the par-4 16th. He's at even. He's looked shaky, but if he can find a birdie or two coming in, he can't be unhappy.
7:55 a.m. TNT's Jim Huber sat down with Watson, who looked incredibly relaxed and composed. A big reason's he's in this thing, Watson said, is because the firm turf gives him a chance to knock it out there with the young'uns. "On links golf courses," he said. "I can get it out there and get it rolling."
"Can you win," Huber asked.
"Who knows?" Watson said.
Huber: A sixth jug would be sweet.
"Yes, I could use one of those," Watson said. "And I'm not being greedy either."
7:49 a.m. These conditions are too darn docile. Clear-ish skies, no wind, not a spit of rain. Hogwash! Give me gale-force gusts, black skies and sideways rain. That, to me, is what the Open is about.
7:44 a.m. OK, trick question. Each statement was uttered by Paddy Harrington earlier this week. Harrington, the two-time defending champion, won last week in Ireland, but his game had been MIA otherwise, and plenty of interested observers will be keeping a close eye on him this week. He goes off at 9:20 a.m. EST, and I look forward to seeing how he handles his first few holes.
7:40 a.m. Pop quiz time. Match the swing flaw to the player who said it:A. "I've been working on my impact position and through concentrating on that my backswing got a little bit out.”B. "I have a tendency to break my wrist late in my backswing. Earlier in my backswing I tend to lift the club with my arms and when I lift the club with my arms I get stuck in the backswing. I have nowhere to go.”C. "It seems if I break my wrist a little earlier in my backswing obviously the club is then going up and I have no need to lift it as much with my arms.”D. "I tend to keep the club on one plane rather than lifting the club off plane. That seems to be a reasonable breakthrough for me because this is something I've done eight years on and off.”
7:37 a.m. Watson rolls home his par putt at 18—that's a 5-under 65. And it feels like it's 1975. Even a mediocre round tomorrow for Watson would keep him solid position for the weekend. Norman contending at Birkdale? Nice story. Watson contending at Turnberry? Chin-dropping stuff. Keep it up, old chap.
7:33 a.m. Tiger tries a stinger off the tee at 14, but blocks it into the fescue right. "That's been his miss today," says TNT's Ian Baker-Finch. Watson made an aggressive run at birdie at 18 and rolled it 6 feet past.
7:30 a.m. Watson gets a rousing reception as he strolls down 18. He's an adopted son around these parts. If Watson can hold his position, at 59, he will be the oldest first-round leader in the history of major championship golf. What a story.
7:27 a.m. Tiger made his par.
7:26 a.m. Tiger blew his approach through the green at 13, but recovered with a delightful chip to five feet. He should save par there. Watson, ahead at 18, hacks his approach out of the rough to 25 or so feet. Two putts from there will leave him at 5-under.
7:21 a.m. Greg Norman has been unable to summon the magic that carried him through four thrilling rounds at Birkdale last year. Despite a birdie-birdie finish, the Shark carded an unsightly 77. Give him credit, though—he was all smiles on the 18th green.
7:17 a.m. Bam! Watson, in a dashing gray argyle sweater, drains his birdie. He's your outright leader. Have to believe the early starters have an advantage today. Word on the course is that the wind is picking up and clouds are rolling in.
7:14 a.m. Cink and David Howell, the Brit, h
ave joined the leaders at 4-under. Watson knocked a chip at the par-5 17th to 6 feet. He'll have a good look at birdie to get to 5-under.
7:11 a.m. Tiger Woods, with three birdies and a pair of bogeys, is one-under through 11, and hasn’t looked particularly pleased with himself. He three-putted the par-4 10th and flung a club after a loose approach at the 9th. Perhaps his birdie 2 at the 11th will get him back on track. He's historically a slow starter at the majors, so don't make too much of his inconsistent play.
7:08 a.m. Two other old farts and former Open champions, Mark Calcavecchia and Mark O’Meara, put together sensational rounds of their own. Each shot 3-under 67, and Calc described Turnberry as “a hard course playing easy today.” Other notables among the leaders: Vijay Singh—3-under through 14, and Stewart Cink—3-under through 9.
7:03 a.m. The early story: Tom Watson. The 59-year-old, through 16 holes, is your co-leader at 4-under (with the Aussie John Senden, who'd finished, and the Brit David Howell, through 9). Watson has birdied four par 4s: Nos. 1, 3, 10 and 12, and not made a single bogey. Unreal. Not sure who I’m more impressed with: Watson or our own Michael Bamberger who sensed Old Tom had this in him. “I know this will sound crazy, and maybe I've been listening too much to my friend Neil Oxman, Watson's caddie,” Bamberger wrote yesterday, “but I think Watson can shoot good scores at Turnberry.” Make that great scores.
7:00 a.m. Good morning, and welcome to the Golf.com Open Championship Live Blog, where if there’s nae wind and nae rain, there’s nae bloggin’. I will be shepherding you through this morning’s first-round coverage, reveling in the seaside splendor that is the Ailsa course at Turnberry. As always, your comments are the lifeblood of our blog, so keep them coming hard and fast. Can Tiger be beat? Can Paddy Harrington, fresh off his win at the Irish PGA, become the first player to win three straight Claret Jugs since 1860? And will Monty stick a banana up Sandy Lyle’s tailpipe? Grab your coffee and your haggis, egg and cheese, and let’s get down to business.