The Open day one: Little love for the course as battle begins for Claret Jug
Royal St George’s is not the players’ favourite course on The Open rotation and world number one Dustin Johnson admits the eventual champion will probably need a slice of fortune and the odd lucky bounce to win the Claret Jug.
The general train of thought is that the bumpy fairways of the Sandwich links often unfairly throw good shots off line, and lush and thick rough has only encouraged some of those here this week to voice their opinions.
Lee Westwood claimed the R&A were considering watering the fairways – unheard of during an Open Championship – to reduce the amount of roll and lessen the chances of ending up in the long grass.
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka was among the most outspoken on his lack of love for the course but fellow American Johnson is taking a more pragmatic approach.
“A bounce here or there can definitely be the difference between winning a major or not,” said Johnson, who was in contention to win in the final round at St George’s in 2011 only to go out of bounds on the par-five 14th.
“Definitely around links golf courses or at the Open Championship that can definitely come into play a little bit more, but everybody is playing the same golf course, and it’s all the same humps and bumps for everybody.”
Clue to the champion?
South Africa’s Branden Grace has played with the eventual winner in the first two rounds of the last two Opens.
At Carnoustie in 2018 he was paired with Francesco Molinari and a year later he went out with Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush on Thursday and Friday.
This year he has Jordan Spieth, the 2017 champion who has enjoyed a return to form this season, and Bryson DeChambeau, last year’s US Open winner and world number six.
Selected tee times
7:52am: Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Abraham Ancer
9.25am: Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Branden Grace
9.58am: Shane Lowry, Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen
2.48pm: Phil Mickelson, Tyrrell Hatton, Kevin Kisner
3.21pm: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Cameron Smith
Dry, bright and sunny to start on Thursday, becoming cloudy towards midday. Wind 10-14mph, gusting 20-25mph. Maximum temperature 23 degrees Celsius.
Golfers warned of further sanctions if they continue to play in LIV breakaway
The DP World Tour has issued fines of £100,000 and tournament bans to its members who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event earlier this month
DP World Tour hits members who played inaugural LIV series with £100,000 fines
They have also been banned from several forthcoming tournaments including the Scottish Open.
Rory McIlroy not impressed as Brooks Koepka becomes latest big name to join LIV
The world number two labelled the players who have joined the new series as “duplicitous” for the way they have handled their breakaway.
R&A confirms LIV Golf Series players will be allowed to compete at Open
The 150th Open Championship will get underway at St Andrews in three weeks’ time.
Matt Fitzpatrick turns to other major winners for advice on dealing with fame
Fitzpatrick won the US Open on Sunday.
Brooks Koepka set to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series
Koepka’s brother Chase played in the opening event at Centurion Club earlier this month.
Gary Player urges Matt Fitzpatrick to avoid ‘poison’ of modern-day coaching
Player tells US Open champion Fitzpatrick to learn from mistakes of recent major winners, saying: “The teaching today is the worst it has ever been.”
Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddie Billy Foster ready for ‘long party’ after US Open win
Foster won his first major after a 40-year career which includes spells working for the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.
Matt Fitzpatrick backed to become a dominant force after winning first major
The Englishman claimed his first major title at Brookline.
Matt Fitzpatrick: A Blade with plenty of support who can really cut it
The Sheffield golfer landed his first major – and first professional win in America – at Brookline on Sunday.