Friday, July 19, 2019

British Open: Round One Wrap-Up

So they played the first round of the British Open Thursday -- but they weren't in Great Britain.  For the first time since 1951, the British Open is actually being played in Northern Ireland, at a course called Royal Portrush.  This change represents a major source of joy for the golf cognoscenti, who are always excited to see an old and famous course brought back into the rotation.  Sometimes it can be a huge success, as when Merion hosted the 2013 U.S. Open.  Sometimes it's a big disappointment, as when Olympia Fields hosted the 2003 U.S. Open.

So far, Royal Portrush looks like it will be a success.  Some of the great heroes crashed and burned, which is always a disappointment to the Middle-Aged Men Who Watch Golf.  Tiger shot a 78 and will probably miss the cut.  Ditto for Adam Scott (78), Phil Mickelson (76), and hometown fave Rory McIlroy (79).  (Once again, Rory will complete a calendar year without a major title.  He hasn't won one since 2014, and I am staggered by that fact).  On the other hand, the top of the leader board is full of interesting names, including J.B. Holmes, who would be a strong candidate for Kentuckian of the Year with a victory.  Sergio, Lee Westwood, Jon Rahm, and Brooks Koepka are all near the top, which indicates serious drama ahead.  Also, it should be noted that the top 15 players are all within two shots of the lead.

The rest of the world is trying to prevent the Americans from sweeping all four majors for the first time since 1982.  And they have a very good chance, as few Americans are currently in the top 10.  Here is the leaderboard after Day One:

1.  J.B. Holmes-5 (66)

2.  S. Lowry (IRL):  -4 (67)

T3.  A. Noren (SWE):  -3 (68)
T3.  W. Simpson-3 (68)
T3.  S. Garcia (ESP):  -3 (68)
T3.  D. Frittelli (RSA):  -3 (68)
T3.  R. MacIntyre (SCO):  -3 (68)
T3.  K. Aphibarnrat (THA):  -3 (68)
T3.  R. Fox (AUS):  -3 (68)
T3.  T. Hatton (ENG):  -3 (68)
T3.  T. Fleetwood (ENG):  -3 (68)
T3.  B. Koepka-3 (68)
T3.  L. Westwood (ENG):  -3 (68)
T3.  T. Finau-3 (68)
T3.  J. Rahm (ESP):  -3 (68)


  1. Four birdies and three pars in the last seven holes for Justin Thomas, and the 26-year-old former St. X Tiger is 1-under and solid to make the cut.

    My nephew told me the other day that he read somewhere that Brooks Koepka said he had never had a hot drink in his life. The 29-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida, is 5-under after his second round. For now, that's T4 and three strokes behind leader J.B. Holmes of Campbellsville.

  2. Great job, Golf Channel! This piece of information they just put on the screen explains everything:

    -- 1960s, Jack Nicklaus 7
    -- 1970s, Jack Nicklaus 8
    -- 1980s, Tom Watson 5
    -- 1990s, Nick Faldo 4
    -- 2000s, Tiger Woods 12
    -- 2010s, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, 4 each

    That's the leading number of majors wins for a player per decade for the last 60 years, and this validates my felt sense of golf for my entire life. It felt like Jack Nicklaus had been great forever when we started really paying attention (because that was true). It felt like golf kind of went a long time with no one super-dominant player and that then Tiger Woods was like nothing anyone had ever seen (because those things were both true). And now it feels like Rory McIlroy was going to be amazing and suddenly that Brooks Koepka is going to be (because both of those things also are true).

    1. Doesn't it feel like McIlroy has fallen off a cliff? It also explains why Nicklaus is the best of all time. He's the only one who dominated 2 decades.

    2. Between 2011 and 2014, McIlroy won nine tournaments on the PGA Tour, including four majors. Since then, he has won seven more times on the PGA tour. This year, he has won the Players Championship and the Canadian Open. He is currently ranked third in the world. So he hasn't fallen off of a cliff, but he has now gone five years in a row without winning a major.

  3. J.B. Holmes, age 37 of Campbellsville, and Shane Lowry, age 32 of Clara, Ireland, now share the lead at 8-under, and they look EXACTLY alike.

  4. So our man from Campbellsville finishes a round of 68 and goes into the third round at 8-under. He got as low as 9-under today before bogeying No. 14 and then shooting par the rest of the way home. J.B. will solidly make the cut, and we'll see where their man from Clara is later today--he's only played six holes today so far.

  5. Matthew, do you have any thoughts you would like to add on Brooks Koepka?

    1. Tiger had a run of 12 in a decade. Jack had a run of 15 over 2 decades. Koepka reminds us of those two guys simply because he seems to driven to win. 12 and 15 is a long ways from 4.