ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The R&A this week wanted to mark the 150th anniversary of The Open and put aside the ongoing dispute between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf over who is the best player in the world.
The R&A wasn’t exactly subtle in trying to make sure that happened. Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, two-time Open winner, was not invited to St Andrews for the celebration. Neither was a single LIV player included in the pre-tournament press conference schedule, nor were the featured pairings for Thursday’s opening round.
That didn’t stop many LIV players from doing quite well on the Old Course. Among them: Dustin Johnson (4-under 68), Lee Westwood (4-under 68), Talor Gooch (4-under 68), Ian Poulter (3-under 69), Bryson DeChambeau (3-under 69) and Scott Vincent (3-under 69).
— LIV Golf (@LIVGolfInv) July 14, 2022
Westwood, who is trying to win his first major at 49, said he was warmly received by fans in Scotland.
“I think the media is stoking it and doing whatever they can to support that,” Westwood said of the rift between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. “I think the general public just wants to go out and see good golf no matter where it’s played or who’s playing it.”
Westwood was also asked about Tiger Woods’ comment that players who jumped to LIV Golf “turned their backs” on the PGA Tour.
“He has a vested interest, doesn’t he?” said Westwood. “The LIV players will praise LIV. The PGA Tour players who aren’t on the LIV Tour will be talking up the PGA Tour and knocking down the LIV Tour.”
Some of LIV Golf’s bigger stars had a harder time navigating the Old Course, including Phil Mickelson (par 72 straight), Patrick Reed (par 72 straight), Brooks Koepka (1-over-73) and Sergio Garcia (3- above). 75).
Poulter from England has long been a favorite of Europe’s Ryder Cup fans. There were a few fans who booed him before his first tee shot, but Poulter insisted he hadn’t heard them. He also said something to a fan who yelled at him at number 17.
“There’s always an American in the crowd,” Poulter said.
Gooch, who faced some criticism for comparing the atmosphere at the second LIV event at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Oregon to the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, named The Open as his favorite tournament.
“It’s not comparable because it was team golf [at LIV] and this isn’t team golf,” Gooch told ESPN when asked to compare the two events. “It’s kind of like apples and pears there.”
Tiger’s quick turnaround
Tiger Woods, who battled his way to a 6-over-78 in the first round, won’t have much time to recover or rest before Friday’s second round. His first lap lasted 6 hours and 5 minutes; he didn’t leave the Old Course until around 9 p.m. local time on Thursday evening.
Woods, 46, is scheduled to tee off Friday at 4:58 a.m. ET (9:58 a.m. local time) with US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa.
At the Masters in April, Woods said he needed a few hours to get his body going before he could play a round. Aside from injuries sustained in a serious car accident outside of Los Angeles in February 2021, which he says nearly led to surgeons amputating his right leg, Woods has struggled with neck and back injuries in recent years .
The good news is that Woods said Thursday’s walk was easier than what he had in the early rounds of the Masters and PGA Championship. The bad news is that it was a 6 hour walk due to the very slow pace of the game.
“We weren’t exactly speed demons out there either,” Woods said. “The whole round took a long time and we were waved. And it’s been a long, slow day.”
Defense of the old course
Golf has been played on the links at St Andrews since the early 15th century, but the ‘home of golf’ doesn’t hold up very well to modern players and length-wise equipment.
With the fairways firm due to the warm weather and no rain, balls rolled like never before. Tiger Woods had a 412-yard drive on the 14th par 5.
“It’s hands down the tightest I’ve ever seen,” Gooch said. “Everyone I’ve asked in the last 48 hours has agreed. It’s the toughest golf course anyone has ever seen. It’s incredible.”
All week players noticed that the fairways were faster than the greens. They said that was still the case on Thursday.
“I’ve been putting really well overall this year, but I’ve noticed that the links greens are usually a bit slower than what we usually play,” said Viktor Hovland. “I just realized in the practice rounds that I just about got the ball to the hole. So I really tried to hit everything within 15 feet, two, three feet behind the hole just to give him a chance to get in.”
There is a good chance it will rain overnight before the second round.
“With no rain forecast it could get a little firmer, especially the greens,” said Rory McIlroy, who shot 6-under-66 in the first round. “I definitely noticed that [Thursday] Some of the highlights in the greens got a bit burned out and bare. And I think that’s why there are certain areas of certain greens that were a little faster than others. So that’s something to keep an eye on over the next few days.”
Some work to do to stay close by
The average for The Open includes top 70 scores and ties. After the first round, 76 players had scores of even or better – and 100 had scores of 1 over or better.
At last year’s Open at Royal St. George’s, the cut was 1 over. It was the same with Royal Portrush in 2019.
Aside from Koepka and Garcia, there are plenty of notable players who will make up ground on Friday, or at least not need to go in the wrong direction to stay through the weekend.
Among them: Jon Rahm (1 over), Will Zalatoris (1 over), Tony Finau (1 over), Harold Varner III (1 over), John Daly (1 over), Billy Horschel (1 over), Max Homa (1 over) and Gary Woodland (2 over).
“Just wake up and do it, you know,” Homa said. “Luckily I have some adrenaline to be here and play with Tiger so it’s going to be fun. I mean, a pretty cool problem. I have to get up early and play the Old Course.”
Will anyone pay attention to #1?
Another Major, another early run from world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler to fight for another win. Scheffler carded a 4-under 68 and is fifth. He has finished in the top five seven times in 13 rounds at majors this season, with McIlroy the most of any player. He has been in the top 10 in 15 of the last 18 rounds at majors dating back to 2021.
Scheffler won the Masters, missed the cut at the PGA Championship, and finished second at the US Open.
“I’m just trying to stay in position, avoid the bunkers and just stay in position, really,” Scheffler said. “That’s all I’m trying to do. There are specific spots where you can attack this golf course and there are many spots where you cannot. So just try to live up to expectations and really just try to hit and hit good shots. “
And the man who won four times in six starts this spring is still being asked if he gets enough respect. He wasn’t included in a feature group for the first two rounds, although his pairing with Joaquin Niemann and Tyrrell Hatton wasn’t too bad.
“I don’t really pay attention to stuff like that,” Scheffler said. “For me, I just show up and try to play good golf. I thought I was in a featured pairing [Thursday]. The guys I’ve played with are pretty solid golfers. I mean it’s your opinion. It’s all perception. For me, I’m just out here trying to play good golf.”
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34244137/the-liv-golf-presence-tiger-woods-quick-turnaround-everything-else-need-know-round-2-open The LIV Golf presence, Tiger Woods’ quick turnaround and everything else you need to know for Round 2 of The Open