The first round of the Open Championship is in the books, and here’s what we know so far: it’s going to get worse. So, so much worse. All that blue sky and calm weather the players enjoyed Thursday? Yeah, it’s about to end. Let’s wrap up Thursday and look to Friday with all you need to know.
At the Top
A trio of Americans—Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, and Matt Kuchar—share the lead at -5. Not bad for a course that yielded a winner who could only card a three-over in 2008. Koepka, of course, is the defending U.S. Open champion, while Spieth is trying to regain the magic of his brilliant 2015 and Kuchar remains the Nicest Player Never To Win A Major. All three took advantage of workable, if not ideal, scoring conditions to carve out birdie-laden rounds.
Advantage: The Field…For Now
The field’s average finished out at 71.83, more than four strokes better than the first-round average in 2008 of 75.87. Of course, the storms expected to roll in on Friday will bring scores back upward. Winds are projected to hit 25 mph, and there’s a 100 percent chance of rain right around the time that all three of the leaders are on the course. So we’ll see how well they handle a touch of European climate.
A Tale of Two Rorys
Everyone wants to believe Rory McIlroy is right there in his return to major championship form. But it’s been three years since he hoisted one of the big trophies. From the jump, he appeared lost, bogeying five of the first six holes. But he settled down and birdied four of the final seven holes to finish the day at one over. It’s a long way to go to the weekend, but if McIlroy can weather the storm that’s rolling in, he’ll be in decent enough shape to take a run at another Claret Jug.
Another week, another rules issue for Jon Rahm. The heralded Spaniard found himself in a spot of trouble once again, as he did at the Irish Open when questions arose about the way he marked and spotted his ball on the green. This time around, Rahm went to move what he thought was a stray blade of grass. Rahm’s ball moved ever so slightly, and he called over a rules official to discuss. He faced a two-stroke penalty, but ended up avoiding a penalty because he didn’t improve his lie. Ah, rules.
Who wore it better: #OpenChampionship edition
Justin Thomas with the cardigan/tie combo?
Or Jason Day's trackies & high top trainers? pic.twitter.com/c8MvP2bjb5
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) July 20, 2017
And of course, there’s always John Daly:
Is there a cooler sportsman than John Daly?
— bet365 (@bet365) July 20, 2017
The cut line at the Open Championship comprises the top 70 players and ties, no “within 10 strokes of the leader” rule. Given the closeness of the field right now, the lack of that margin will bounce a few on the back end. Notable (unexpected) names who’ll have work to do to get to the cut line are Louis Oosthuizen (+8), local product Tommy Fleetwood (+6), Bryson Dechambeau (+6), and 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson (+5).
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.