Day 1 of the British Open is in the books. A day that looked ideal for low scores early turned surprisingly touchy as the afternoon went on, and the low scores of the morning held up all the way through the first day at Carnoustie. Here’s a rundown of the highlights.
Kisner’s secret for success: soccer
Kevin Kisner needed just 22 putts on the day to stake a lead at 5-under, and afterward he noted that he’s unwinding by playing a bit of soccer in the house he’s sharing with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker. “I just try to smash Duf in the face. He’s all-time goalie,” Kisner said. “It’s pretty cool to watch how athletic a lot of those guys are — except Duf, really. No, I’m just kidding. Duf is athletic, too.”
Kisner noted that defending champ Spieth is a good player, too, “until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we’ve got to go knock on neighbors’ doors for the soccer ball.”
The weather … because there’s always weather
Kisner benefitted from a favorable draw; the winds were calm and the skies were bright as the morning rounds teed off. Winds picked up in the afternoon, and few in the later rounds got anywhere close to Kisner’s lead. The winds heralded an incoming storm which, if forecasts hold, will bring rain to the course Friday morning … when the Thursday afternoon groups will be playing.
Shot of the day: Ian Poulter’s hop, skip, and jump
As you can see in the video above, Ian Poulter pulled off the shot of the day on the 18th hole, the same one that victimized poor Jean van de Velde 19 years ago. Poulter’s approach bounced over the burn in front of the green, then skittered along the dry turf and hit the edge of the greenside bunker hard enough to pop right out onto the fringe. Poulter parred the hole and finished the day at two over, but it could have been so much worse.
Brooks Koepka, the ultimate grinder
Early on, it certainly appeared that two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka was toast, as shown in this particular debacle:
But Koepka followed his front-nine 41 with a back-nine 31. He finished the day at 1-over, very much in striking distance for his second straight major. Not that anyone would have expected that after seeing his bunker play.
Sergio feels the burn
Van de Velde lost in a playoff back in 1999 because he couldn’t hit a shot out of the burn. Sergio Garcia, who’s had a touch of heartbreak at Carnoustie before, was a touch luckier:
Garcia’s going to have to struggle to make the weekend, sitting at 4-over after the first day, but at least he’s got that highlight going for him.
Big names, big scores
While Tiger Woods came in at even par and Rory McIlroy carded a strong 2-under round, some other major names weren’t quite so lucky. A final-hole triple-bogey sent Dustin Johnson spiraling to a 5-over round. And defending champ Spieth, after starting strong, went double-bogey-par-bogey over his last four holes to fall to 1-over. Both players can go low, and both will need to if they’re going to challenge Kisner.
The Open continues Friday morning at 1:35 a.m. Eastern. Get your coffee ready!
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