The Open Championship (or British Open, if you prefer) is one of the more enjoyable events on the golf calendar, mainly because you can wake up and start watching golf before you even get out of bed. Here’s what happened on Thursday morning in the hours before sunrise in the United States.
An Ugly Start
Mark O’Meara won the honor of starting the 2017 Open thanks to his victory at Royal Birkdale in 1998. But it didn’t quite go as O’Meara would have liked; the very first official shot of the tournament went out of bounds. A bad omen?
A Strong Finish
Stuart Manley sat at one-over on the 16th hole at Royal Birkdale. Two holes later, he was in the clubhouse with the lead at -2. (He would later get passed.) For a course renowned for its difficulty—winning score in 2008 was three-over—closing with such a flourish is an achievement worth celebrating.
A few weeks ago, Ian Poulter teetered on the edge of losing his PGA Tour card, an embarrassing fall from grace for one of the finest Ryder Cup players in history. He’s clambered his way back into the mix, and on Thursday, he took advantage of relatively mild conditions to own the leaderboard. Poulter’s three-under 67 was his finest round ever in a major, and left him with the clubhouse lead once he finished.
Jordan Spieth, sporting a vest and a fierce iron game, played Phil Mickelson-style golf—getting into and out of trouble with flair—en route to the top of the leaderboard. If he can combine his current level of ball-striking with his putting from his career year of 2015, he’s going to validate everyone who picked him to win this week at Royal Birkdale.
The wild weather and European style make for some interesting fashion combinations. Let’s start with Jason Day:
And then Justin Thomas:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 20, 2017
Going to be a fine few days at Birkdale.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.