Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recapping the First Day of the Open

It was a fun, albeit strange, opening day at the Open Championship in Sandwich. Only two pre-tournament contenders found themselves in the top-18 on the opening day (Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer), and the leaderboard looked like if those ladies that always win March Madness pools had picked it. But the cool thing about the first day leaders is how many great stories there are. Here are a few of them ...

Thomas Bjorn, 5-under 65 -- One of the leaders after the first day was about as expected as a baby on that "Sixteen and Pregnant" show, considering this was the golf course that doomed him in the last time the Open was hosted here. Bjorn made a double-bogey on the 16th in 2003, and a bogey on 17 before a par on 18 left him a shot back of Ben Curtis, but on Thursday, he birdied 16 and made par on 17 on his way to a tidy 65 to put him as the top professional in the event. Why do I say "top professional"? Well ...

Tom Lewis, 5-under 65 -- A 20-year-old amateur kid with miles of bravado was paired with his namesake, Tom Watson, and didn't do a lot except post the lowest score in the history of the British Open. My favorite quote about Lewis (picture above) comes courtesy of James Corrigan's interview with him that posted the day before the event - ""I'm going to turn pro the day after the Walker Cup in September," he said. "Unless I win here." Lewis wasn't joking." Well then.

Darren Clarke, 2-under 68 -- Any story with Clarke playing well is a good one, because he's one of the most liked guys in the game, and it still seems to ache when you think about his wife, Heather, who passed away from breast cancer in 2006.

Ricky Barnes, 2-under 68 -- Probably the coolest story of the entire tournament is that of this fellow Wildcat, who said he was on a beach in California on Tuesday before finding out he was first alternate and deciding to fly 10 hours to England to see if he could get in the tournament. How did he get in? Nicolas Colsaerts out of Belgium got in a freak accident on a scooter while in the town of Sandwich, and couldn't make a golf swing, so Barnes found out Thursday morning he was in, and made the best of it.

And what about Lucas Glover? Well, he's in the hunt.

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