Live from the British Open at Turnberry, July 16

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Live from the British Open at Turnberry, July 16

Golf writer Andy Reistetter is on site at the Open at Turnberry and is providing daily reports covering both inside and outside the ropes. Here are his notes from Thursday, July 16.

 

I can't seem to catch a ride on the bus to get to the golf course. This is the third morning in the row I have gone down to the bus stop in plenty of time to catch the bus. Someone stops or backs up and says, "Hey do you want a lift?" Of course I do ,because I love meeting local folks.

 

I think that is the way to truly experience the Open.

 

I followed Tiger Woods, meeting up with him, Lee Westwood, and 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa as they hit their approach shots into the green at the par-4 fifth hole.

 

I took a moment to take in the scene—hillocks and dales surround the green making for a natural amphitheater. Stadium golf before Pete Dye was even born for sure. Colorful streams of people all over the place. I thought this is Turnberry, this is the Open, this is Tiger Woods, it does not get any better than this.

 

No British Open weather though. The sun was shining, the temperatures in the low 70s by my personal thermometer and there was little wind. The weather was perfect for golf and going low just like in 1977 when Tom Watson (the other TW) outlasted Jack Nicklaus at the "Duel in the Sun."

 

Lee Westwood was the leader at three-under par through four holes. The Japanese golfing phenom Ishikawa was beating the world golfing phenom at age 33, Tiger Woods, one-under to even par.

 

Ishikawa had chipped out of the rough and back into the fairway. He hit a medium iron to the green on the 474-yard par-4 hole and two-putted from 70 feet for a bogey. All square with the world's No.1 golfer.

 

Ishikawa likes to wear plaid slacks with a large cross barred pattern. Yesterday it was orange and today it was a more muted color. I am not saying they are as loud as John Daly's Loudmouth attire, but you can definitely see him coming before you see him.

 

Tiger hit a great shot on the 231-yard par-3 sixth hole, but missed a makeable uphill birdie putt from inside 10 feet. Though he birdied the par-5 seventh hole, he then missed another 15-footer for birdie, leaving it dead in dead-short two inches.

 

You could tell he was frustrated big time by the flat stick.

 

After a three-putt bogey on No. 10, Woods' frustration with the flat stick started to carry over to his tee shots. He had the two-iron stinger going really well for a while, but then started to get the "rights."

 

Right on 13, "fore right" on 14, way back on No. 16, and surprisingly his approach shot found the burn to the right of the green and right on his tee shot at the par-5 17th hole.

 

Right, right right.

 

He missed a makeable 10- foot birdie putt on No. 18 and finished the day with a one-over par 71.

 

Ishikawa and Westwood shot two-under 68s.

 

Ishikawa missed a bunch of makeable birdie putts, but then started hitting laser irons so close he started making the putts. He missed short birdie putts on 12, 13, and 14 before birding the par-3 15th from 10 feet, and No. 17 from seven feet.

 

The youngster beat his idol by three strokes using a local Turnberry caddie, by the way.

 

The first question posed to Westwood in the post-round interview wasn't even a question, it was a comment.

 

"It seems like you left a few strokes out there."

 

He immediately rattled off where—on No. 4, a four-footer to go to four-under through four holes; two when he bogeyed the birdieable par-5 seventh; he also went in the burn at No. 16 for double bogey and failed to birdie the par-5 17th.

 

Six strokes left out there. The 68 could have, should have, would have been a new Open and Major record 62.

 

Chills went down my spine when I looked up to the scoreboard at 18 green to see Tom Watson on top, posting a five-under 65. Just like in the final round when he beat Nicklaus by a stroke in 1977—32 years ago. Major reason when Nick Price should play the Open even though he doesn’t think he can win.

 

Way to go, Tom!

 

Off to the first tee for Game 42 at 2:31 p.m. The threesome of Davis Love III, 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie and Aussie Stewart Appleby. The well known first tee announcer Ivor Robson…Game No. 42 from the United States' David Love the Third…with his voice getting high and trailing off at the end. Another WOW like at the fifth green earlier with Tiger's gallery.

 

Out of respect, I think they should let prior Open Champions tee off first. Especially old timers like Tom Watson, Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie. They may never get the honor again for the next 17 holes.

 

Oh you caught that. Montgomerie never did win the Open or any Major for that matter. Lyle has won two Majors. Lyle should have been the upcoming Ryder Cup Captain or at least an assistant with a promise for the job in 2014 at Gleneagles. Montgomerie did beat Lyle on the Ailsa golf course today, shooting a 71 to Lyle's 75.

 

Boo Weekley shot a three-under 67. I loved his comment last year at Royal Birkdale—can't get no sweet tea over there.

 

Walking up to the green on the par-3 fourth hole, the first of eight along the Irish Sea, thinking this is definitely a beach day. Why did I bring the umbrella? DL3 taps in for deuce though like Appleby he would follow a birdie with a bogey and never really get on track today.

 

One thing is for sure at Turnberry—the bunkers are really two-three times their actual size due to the contours of the ground around them. Like a vacuum cleaner, they suck balls in. It is a simple equation—bunker equals bogey at Turnberry, if you are lucky.

 

Here's the deal at the Open—there are no bunker rakes left on the course. Members of BIGGA (British and international Golf Greenskeeper Association) walk around with each group and rake the bunkers. The guy in my group gets a ball from Appleby after he bunkers on the fourth hole.

 

The logo on the ball is a red apple and a yellow bee for Appleby.

 

While on the eighth tee, I saw John Daly in the group behind almost hole out his second shot into the par-5 seventh hole for an albatross.  Daly has lime green dot pattern pants on today. His girlfriend is wearing a matching skirt. OK we get the picture.

 

Love battles back from two-over to shoot a one-under 69 while Lawrie and Appleby shoot one-over 71s.

 

The Mechanic Miguel Angel Jimenez birdies Nos. 17 and 18 after shooting four-under on the front nine to record a six-under par bogey-free 64. He is the leader after Round 1 of the 2009 British Open.

 

Five-time Open Champion Tom Watson and 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis both shot five-under 64s to tie for second place. Both golfers incidentally won the British Open in their first attempt. The 65 ties Watson's lowest first round in 128 Major appearances.

 

Other first round scoring notes:

 

Steve Stricker winner last week at the john Deere Classic shot 66.

 

John Daly shot a two-under par 68 and is tied for 21st.

 

World No. 3 Pal Casey shot 68.

 

Martin Kaymer winner the last two weeks on the European Tour shot 69 as did two-time defending Open Champion Padraig Harrington.

 

A refreshed and back to his normal self Sergio Garcia shot 70 in his quest for his first Major victory.

 

David Duval shot 71 while U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover shot 72.

 

PLAYERS Champion Henrik Stenson shot 71.

 

Masters Champion Angel Cabrera shot 69.

 

Scores of the youth: 16-year-old Matteo Manassero, an amateur shot 71, 17-year-old Ishikawa shot 68, and old-timer 20-year-old Rory McIlroy shot 69.

 

That's a wrap. It's after 11 p.m. and the sun has been down for a little over an hour. Sunrise is before 5 a.m. so I better hit the sack.

 

I wonder who will be picking me up at the bus stop in the morning.

 

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering for the tournaments and working part time for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and The Golf Channel. He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him to Andy@MrHickoryGolf.net

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