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5 Hot Headlines from Day 1 at The Open Championship



Were you unable to catch the action on Day 1 at The Open? Or did waking up early scramble your memory of the action?

Regardless, we watched everything closely on Thursday. Here are the main headlines to take away from the happenings of Round 1 at the Open Championship.

A New Major, the Same Characters 

I’m certainly not the first to note this, but the top of the first-day leaderboard at the Open Championship appears remarkably similar to the final results at last month’s U.S. Open.

Basically, the five biggest players at Chambers Bay were Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen.

And guess what? All five shined Thursday at the Open.

Johnson carbon-copied his first 18 at Chambers Bay, posting a 7-under 65 at the Old Course for the opening-day lead.

Spieth did Spieth things in an opening 5-under 67. While Tiger Woods imploded (more on that below), playing partners Day (66) and Oosthuizen (67) combined for 11-under. Grace posted an impressive 69 in tougher afternoon conditions.

There’s plenty of golf left, and all but Grace are on schedule to face the brunt of Friday afternoon gales. But so far, there’s a lot of Chambers Bay deja vu in Scotland.

Tiger Woods Needs Help…


Even for the Woods we’ve seen over the past two years, that round was shocking.

The guy had shown some semblance of form with a T32 at the Greenbrier and he absolutely loves The Old Course. Heck, the 39-year-old performed well at The Masters earlier this season with far fewer good vibes ahead of the event.

Alas, Woods proved to be totally out of sorts on his favorite venue Thursday. He chunked his opening tee shot, dropped his initial approach in the water and would start bogey-bogey. The disastrous beginning seemed to set the tone for a round that would involve several loose shots and short missed putts.

(Here’s Tiger duffing a pitch like a 15-handicapper!)

It added up to a 40 on a front nine everybody else was tearing apart, and a 4-over 76 that bettered just two scores from the morning group. Woods currently sits in a tie for 139th.

Let’s be honest, with Woods likely subjected to those-still forecasted Friday afternoon gales, his chances of making the cut are probably zero.

Back to the drawing board for a guy who earlier this week defiantly stated he wasn’t dead and buried.

The Road Hole Was Unfair

The 17th at St. Andrews always finishes as the course’s most brutal test in Open Championships, but I’m sorry… Thursday was just too much.

When set up best, the Road Hole will severely challenge anyone who crosses its path. But the test is fair, and players can still be rewarded with a decent chance at birdie or a safe par with two great-to-excellent shots from tee-to-green.

That just wasn’t the case on Thursday.

A 495-yard par-4 with a shallow green and out of bounds right was already tough enough. Add in a wind off the left (and into the players as the day wore on) and a tucked hole location just behind the Road Hole bunker and the 17th was downright sadistic.

Plenty of players were hitting woods into this green because this hole played so long. Predictably, many of those far-away efforts (on a par-4!) were nowhere close to the green, and even an unbelievably precise second only got a player just in front of the green or on the surface some 60 feet away.

On the 17th, a lot of players hit drives down a different fairway, too! That’s not a sign of a well set-up hole.

Overall, the 17th played to a 4.833 scoring average and gave up ZERO birdies.

I’m all for the Road Hole playing tough, but hopefully something is softened over the last three days. Otherwise, it’s just too penal and not worth anything.

Surprises Near the Top

Major championships tend to house a few odd names near or at the lead through 18 holes, and this time was no different.

The three players that come to mind are Robert Streb, Retief Goosen and Paul Lawrie, all early finishers in at 66 and one off the lead.

Streb has played well of late, but this is his first Open and he even acknowledged his surprise at his high spot.

Goosen plays well at the Old Course, but has missed five of his last six cuts and hasn’t factored in a major in years.

Lawrie had a similarly inspiring first day at the Open three years ago. Otherwise, he hasn’t made any noise in a major since his shocking 1999 Open title.

Some interesting backstories, we’ll see how long they can hold up.

Easy St. Andrews Will Exact Revenge

Cooler temperatures and a mild uptick in the wind Thursday afternoon afforded St. Andrews a couple of key defenses.

But in the end, seven players posted a 66 or better and 63 players are under par through 18 holes. With these docile conditions for four days, the winning score would be well into double digits under par and we would have a mini-shootout on our hands.

But that’s a hypothetical. The next two days of actual weather will be the fun part.

After a friendly Day 1, the Old Course will offer significantly worse conditions on Friday and Saturday.

Rain will be pretty consistent on Friday and the winds will be persistent around 20 miles per hour throughout the day with gusts of 35 or 40 mph really coming into play during the afternoon.

Saturday will be similarly rainy and windy.

I’m not saying we should expect unbelievably high scores over the next two days, but definitely anticipate a massive decline in sub-par rounds.

Side note: The weather advantage the morning group had today will evaporate — and maybe more — with the Friday afternoon gales.

For the first time since 1995, St. Andrews will be enacting significant defenses over multiple days, which may produce a single-digit winning score for the first time at an Old Course Open in 20 years.

Links golf is meant to be played in this inclement weather, and it will be fascinating to see who can hold up under a siege of poor conditions at the Old Course.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014



  1. Steve

    Jul 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    The only reason you write here is because someone in your family runs the site

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 19, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      What I find hilarious about this line of reasoning is that it’s been created entirely out of thin air. And it’s not even creative.

      But you can believe a fabrication if you want, I can’t stop you.

  2. Gubment Cheez

    Jul 17, 2015 at 10:59 am

    The fact that they all at the hole makes it fair
    They talk about course management; well let’s see it
    Long/short/easy/hard: it evens out
    Let’s not forget…it’s a major and is supposed to test
    Maybe this hole was designed to see how a player reacts to making a higher number

  3. Let's see who's talking

    Jul 17, 2015 at 12:28 am

    I’m sure to all those who are saying the hole was playing fair haven’t ever said in their own rounds of golf that a hole wasn’t fair or was brutal or just ridiculous, I forgot all these people commenting are scratch and can go bang it out there with the pros. If the hole is already play almost an entire stroke over par and the course was soft with no wind what’s going to happen with the 40 mph winds and rain tomorrow? Good shots deserve to be rewarded and bad shots penalized that’s what Kevin is saying. If you hit two of the best shots you could ever hit and still make bogey then that’s not golf, I’d love to see the scores you hacks would post on your local public course in bad weather let alone the road hole at St Andrews. Internet scratch golfers go back to playing ea sports golf that the only way you’ll par that course

    • Steve

      Jul 17, 2015 at 8:15 am

      What is a good shot to you? Well struck? If you hit it two feet of the pin and it rolls off the back, is that a good shot? Or if you hit a scull that rolls up to a foot that is a bad shot rewarded? If you hit two shots exactly the way you wanted and still make bogey, then maybe you made bad choices or it is just golf

    • Me Nunya

      Jul 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      “Internet scratch golfers”, LOL

  4. Steve

    Jul 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    How can any hole be unfair or course? Add them up after 72 and find a winner? It is a ok for a hole to play under par , but unfair if it plays over.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 16, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      See my response to Siss. I have no qualms about a hole playing well over par, as long as it’s fair.

      A difficult hole becomes unfair when well-struck shots are generally not getting rewarded. When well-executed shots are not getting rewarded, someone who hits it well on the hole will gain little (and sometimes zero) advantage over someone who is striking it poorly on the hole. When that happens over and over again, as it did at the Road Hole today, it erodes the advantage of ball-striking skill to a great degree on that hole. And that’s unfair.

      • dr bloor

        Jul 16, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        It’s not possible for a hole to be “unfair” if all the golfers are playing the same hole, it can only be characterized by degree of difficulty. They are, after all, playing against one another, not each other.

        If “well-executed shots” are not differentiating the competitors, then the smartest competitors will simply change strategies. If the hole really played to a 4.8 today, I’d wager a number of the guys could have saved themselves a stroke against the field by laying up and trying to execute an up-and-down to save par.

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm

          I think it’s easily possible for a hole to be unfair even if all the competitors play it.

          Luck is always involved in majors (or any professional tournament), but ideally, it plays a very minor role, whereas the execution of skill is the main differentiator. Those who are using their skills to the fullest (executing their shots the best) ideally will be near the top of the leaderboard, and it should be the bottom for those executing their shots the worst. Luck would have a minor sway, but execution of skill is the main cog here.

          That’s my ideal, and I think it is for the vast majority of golf fans. On the Road Hole today, that ideal wasn’t being lived up to tee-to-green. Those who struck the ball really well on that hole tee-to-green were only getting minimal (if any) reward versus those who struck it quite poorly tee-to-green there. For that to happen over and over again, it really takes away the advantage from those using their skills better tee-to-green, and brings luck and chance far too much into the equation. That is how it’s unfair.

          You say that they could change their strategy. Well sure, they can do that. But my point is: Why, in the first place, is the hole set-up in a way that does little to differentiate well executed-shots from the poorly executed ones?

          That’s just a dumb way to set up a hole. I get what you mean with altering strategy, but we’re talking about changing tactics on an unfair setup. The hole shouldn’t be set up in an unfair way in the first place.

          Anyway, it is just one hole, though, so it’s just a minor thing I wanted to note. I’m assuming we’ll continue to disagree here. But obviously that’s fine, I appreciate that you were civil in your initial reply, something that really isn’t common enough on the Internet. Hopefully I came across the same way.

          Even if I have that Road Hole complaint, I thoroughly enjoyed Day One and I’m really looking forward to these guys’ battling the conditions on Days Two and Three.

      • Steve

        Jul 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

        How can a well executed shot not be rewarded. If the golfer hits it well and the results are poor, the golfer made a poor decision. There are holes in every major where bogey is not a bad score. Some holes need to be played more carefully then others. You do not understand links golf, what might look like a poor shot might not be. How many times have you seen shots spin back into the water at The Masters, good shot bad decision.

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 17, 2015 at 11:46 am

          I do understand links golf, it was clear what a good shot looked like on the Road Hole yesterday and what didn’t.

          And yes, if a golfer is taking a very (or too) aggressive line, hits a well-executed shot and it ends up poorly, that can indeed be poor-decision making.

          But yesterday at the Road Hole, players that were hitting great shots exactly on the conservative approach line the hole asks for (at the right side of the green) were not getting rewarded, or only barely so. There was literally no place on that hole, no matter how good your strategy, where a well-executed shot was getting its just reward.

          That is what I’m referring to.

  5. Siss

    Jul 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    The road hole is NOT unfair, you sissy.
    The weather is the factor. Soft conditions and cold weather is not letting the ball roll out. Who cares. Not a big deal. That’s how it is, sometimes.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      I haven’t been called a sissy in a long time haha. I never said that the Road Hole is unfair in general, I think it plays very tough, but fair a lot of the time. I felt today was not one of those times.

      I get that the weather was a factor (I did mention it in the article) but that fact doesn’t mean the hole wasn’t unfair. There are plenty of times in majors where organizers will decide to use a shorter tee box or a more accessible pin in anticipation of an unfavorable wind direction or unfavorable conditions that would make the hole impossible and unfair if not altered.

      If before the round, the R&A anticipated that wind (and therefore these really long second shot yardages from the back tee), they easily could’ve moved the tee up 40 yards or put the pin in a significantly more enticing position (a lot more to the right). Either option softens the hole somewhat, but it’s still tough. And at that point, it’s fair. (And even if the R&A couldn’t have anticipated this wind, the hole remains unfair, it’s just not their fault at that point.)

      At the back 495 yard tee with that wind and the pin they chose though, it wasn’t fair. A hole can be just even if it’s extremely difficult. Extremely difficult becomes unfair when well-struck shots are generally not getting rewarded and a perfect shot can’t even get you that close.

      Both of these were true about the Road Hole today. The players were so far back and the pin was so tucked that really well struck approaches were generally still leaving the golfers a tough time making par. Honestly, even if you had a perfect drive and a good angle, it almost made sense to lay-up (on a par-4!) to 70 yards. That way, you could take it over the pin and spin it back close. I mean, it’s pretty dumb on a par-4 if a well-struck approach on a conservative line isn’t really giving you a better chance at par than flat out laying up. Add on to this that a perfect drive and approach were at best going to get you like 40 feet from the hole for birdie and we can see how unfair it is.

      In the grand scheme, it’s a minor grip. I expect the Road Hole to be fair and difficult the last three days. It was the worst possible combination of pin location and conditions that sabotaged it today. I don’t think that will happen twice.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Jul 16, 2015 at 10:26 pm

        Nope. Sorry. Take a step back and gain some perspective. Was this hole next to impossible to birdie? Maybe. But this is one hole and is just a part of the course, round, and experience. There are easier holes too. Remember that this is for the absolute best players in the world, so people should enjoy watching them face that challenge, instead of complaining that it is “unfair”. Why would you want to watch the best players in the world play holes of average difficulty. Sure, maybe perfect shots weren’t rewarded with a tap in. Tough! That’s what comes with the territory while playing in a major with the other top .001% of the world’s golfers.

      • CR

        Jul 17, 2015 at 1:22 am

        A whole LOT of them shot 5, 6 and 7 under. A lot of them also shot Par on 17. What’s the big deal????
        Just you wait. That weather will wreak havoc tomorrow, and then we’ll see what happens. Regardless of the set-up of tee boxes, 17 played as hard as it should, as it was redesigned. Not a big deal! Other holes on the front played ridiculously easy and simple, look at what that group did on the front when it was benign!

        You might just want to retract everything you’ve said, because you’ve obviously not played a real links course with 30 mph crosswinds from all directions and sideways rain.
        Just watch.

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 17, 2015 at 11:32 am

          I honestly don’t think the unfairness of the hole yesterday is a big deal. I noted it because if I think something is unfair, it makes sense to point it out.

          But I definitely feel it’s a very minor thing and doesn’t detract from the tournament at all. You guys questioned my reasoning behind the Road Hole’s Thursday unfairness, though, (which is your prerogative), and I was defending my view.

          I won’t retract anything I’ve said because it was never about the hole being really difficult. As I’ve stated numerous times, REALLY DIFFICULT HOLES ARE FINE BY ME. In fact, I far prefer high scores than a shootout.

          My contention was that the Road Hole was unfair yesterday. The 17th is supposed to be quite hard, but it’s also supposed to reward good shots, and it really didn’t do that yesterday. Think it was just anomaly, I think the Road Hole is a great hole overall and we won’t see that unfairness continue after yesterday.

      • Steve

        Jul 17, 2015 at 11:31 am

        Kevin Casey Jul 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm
        I haven’t been called a sissy in a long time haha.

        So you have been a sissy for a long time then

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 17, 2015 at 11:48 am

          Yes. And I’m proud of it.

        • Scooter McGavin

          Jul 17, 2015 at 2:11 pm

          Why does Steve get to keep his comment where he calls the author names, but my comment where I insinuate that the author was only hired because he has an uncle on staff gets deleted? Hit too close to home?

          • Kevin Casey

            Jul 17, 2015 at 11:23 pm

            To answer your first question: No clue.

            For the second: It doesn’t, not even in the slightest.

            I don’t control which comments are deleted or not. I’m sure I could ask for a comment to be deleted and it would be done, but I have absolutely no interest in doing that unless a comment involves something truly offensive (as in something like slur words being used). Although, that would probably be caught anyway.

            So yeah, sorry don’t know what to tell you. Out of my hands. But I trust the person who deleted your comment had good reason for it.

          • Steve

            Jul 18, 2015 at 9:50 am

            Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches. Btw my post was a copy and paste. Now have mommy change your diaper

          • Steve

            Jul 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm


            • Kevin Casey

              Jul 18, 2015 at 11:49 pm

              Your comments don’t even make sense anymore…

              • Steve

                Jul 19, 2015 at 8:28 am

                Just like your articles

                • Kevin Casey

                  Jul 19, 2015 at 2:08 pm

                  I obviously disagree on that point (as would my editors), but of course I’m biased.

                  I appreciate you pointing out the Road Hole issue, allowed me to explain myself further there. We certainly don’t agree there either, but I thought it was a good discussion. Disagreement can be constructive when people don’t resort to name-calling and “you suck” above actual reasoning, and I thought that was the case with our argument over the Road Hole.

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