TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Anthony Kim took three swipes to escape a pot bunker, and by the time he was done making a mess of the second hole at Turnberry on Thursday, he had a quintuple-bogey 9.
It somehow got even worse.
Trying to shake off his miserable start in the British Open, he was turning his neck to loosen up when he felt it grab. It wasn’t long before the 24-year-old Kim was lying on his stomach between dunes as a trainer tried to work out the pain.
“It was just a crick in my neck,” Kim said. “It was a little awkward, but I’m fine.”
What really hurt was his putter. Despite his rugged start, Kim gave himself birdie chances on just about every hole and didn’t convert nearly enough of them. Even so, he fought back to 1-over par and had an 8-iron into the 16th hole. He went right at the flag, only to see the ball spin back, catch the slope and tumble into the burn. He made double bogey.
Kim finished with a 3-over 73, which includes those two holes he played in 7 over.
“That’s the best I’ve hit the ball all year,” Kim said. “That’s why I’m so frustrated. I hit it great, and I putted like a donkey.”
He wasn’t the only player immune to trouble.
Kim played his third straight major with 20-year-old Rory McIlroy, who was going along nicely until he buried a tee shot in the rough, tried to hack out into even more rough, took an unplayable lie and escaped with double bogey.
That was his only big blunder, though, and McIlroy had a 69.
“It got a bit bad and a bit ugly,” McIlroy said. “But overall, I thought I played very solidly. I had eight 3s on my scorecard, which is good around here; good around any golf course.”
SHOT OF THE DAY: Retief Goosen recently added a 62-degree sand wedge, and it sure came it handy Thursday.
The two-time U.S. Open champion looked to be in trouble on the par-5 17th when his second shot went into a bunker just inches from the sodded wall. He appeared to have no way to take a stance, and not much of a shot.
He knelt down, both knees, then flexed his left knee on the grass and tried to plant his right foot in the sand.
“I thought if anything, it would hit the side and stay in the bunker,” Goosen said. “I thought about hitting backward to the middle of the bunker. But once I got my foot set, I thought I might have a chance. I’m lucky I have a 62-degree wedge.”
Even so, he had to hit it perfectly, and he did. With a big swing and a splash of sand, the ball landed on the green and rolled to within 3 feet of the hole for a birdie not many could have imagined.
Rory McIlroy was duly impressed.
“That’s one of the best up-and-downs I’ve ever seen,” McIlroy said. “I don’t know if I’d play it on my knees or take an unplayable or what I’d do with it.”
McIlroy said he often sees Goosen in the gym stretching.
“I was walking up to the tee saying, ‘All that gym work has paid off, I guess,”‘ McIlroy said. “He said, ‘I’ve had 20 more years to stretch than you.”‘
SHARK BAIT: When last seen on the links of a British Open, Greg Norman was shooting a 77 to fall out of the lead at Royal Birkdale.
A year later, he had the same score under entirely different circumstances.
Norman didn’t make a birdie until the 17th hole, and he attributed the tough day to easy conditions.
“I knew if the conditions were calm it would be tough on me,” he said. “I wasn’t hitting the ball that solid. It was disappointing that I wasn’t walking onto the first tee feeling confident about where I was hitting the ball.”
He was in the final group last year. He likely will be leaving Friday.
“If I play nine holes tomorrow and the rest play 18, I might be OK,” Norman said. “But I got what I deserved today.”
ACHES AND GAINS: Mark Calcavecchia won the Canadian Open when he was 45, then he won at Innisbrook at age 47. He turned 49 last month, but his not holding out much hope for the cycle to continue.
“My thoughts of winning have pretty much gone out the window as time goes by,” Calcavecchia said after opening with a 67.
His back has been bothering him lately, and the ’89 Open champion contemplated staying home, especially after he had to play 36 holes on Sunday to finish the John Deere Classic. His love of this championship is the only reason he flew over.
“Once I was done, I took a few more Aleve and a couple of beers, and I was OK and gone on the plane,” he said. “And several more beers went flowing down. The next thing you know, we were landing.”
The only full practice round he played was Tuesday, and that was a good indication of how he felt. Stretching his back while waiting to hit to the 12th green, he said to no one in particular, “I wish we were on about 16 right now.”
Just then, caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan came by and mentioned some advice his father had told him years ago – “Never wish away time.”
Calcavecchia considered this briefly.
“I wish I was 50 tomorrow,” he said.
GENERATION GAP: Tom Watson is the oldest player in the field at 59. He is playing the first two rounds with British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, who at 16 is the youngest player at Turnberry.
Watson couldn’t fathom playing his first Open at that age.
“As a 16-year-old, I played in some summer events – the Western Amateur, the Trans-Mississippi,” he said.
Watson was impressed with that he saw.
“His eyes today were a dead giveaway what it’s like to be out here at an Open Championship,” Watson said. “He was definitely in awe of the place. He kept it very simple. I really liked the way he played his game. I wish I had his putting stroke. Those 3-footers just go right in the middle of the hole. I remember that vaguely.”
DIVOTS: Six former Open champions shot 68 or better, including Mark O’Meara (67) and John Daly (68). … Todd Hamilton, who won the 2004 British Open up the Ayrshire coast at Royal Troon, was 8 over through 10 holes, but rallied for a 75. … Padraig Harrington had to use the bathroom in the middle of his round, and the closest available were the public toilets. Needless to say, he got a few curious looks from the spectators inside. “A lot of people were looking … basically, ‘What was I doing in the services?”‘ Harrington said. “Even a guy who’s won three majors needs to go to the toilet.” … U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover opened with a 72.