SCOTLAND, JULY 20,
Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri carded a 5-over 76, leaving him with a mountain to climb in his bid for a weekend appearance, on the opening day of the 147th Open Championships here on Thursday.
The Carnoustie Golf Links, which was baked on a warm morning, penalised visits to the fairway bunkers and did not make putting easy either.
Americans, who have won the last five Majors, and 10 of the last 14, dominated the leader-board. Kevin Kisner led the field with a 5-under 66 which included a colourful stretch of bogey-eagle-par-birdie from fifth.
Hat-trick of birdies
He then he had a hat-trick of birdies from 13th to 15th and survived the famous Carnoustie bite on the 16-18th hole. “Getting accustomed to links golf is something you have to do where we come from,” Kisner said. “The ball’s running 50 to 80 yards on certain shots. I didn’t think it was as firm today as it has been, but I also played at 7:50 in the morning.
“I think I only hit four drivers all day, maybe five. I just want the ball on the fairway because it’s not an overly long golf course.”
Van Rooyen delights
Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa, who qualified for the Open by finishing second behind Shubhankar Sharma at Joburg Open, was flawless for 17 holes before dropping a shot on 18th for a 4-under 67. Defending champion Jordan Spieth was not a model of accuracy, and it finally caught up with the Texan as he dropped four shots in the final four holes for a 72. Lahiri had bogeys on fourth, ninth and 16th and he double-bogeyed the 10th and there were no birdies “It was not the day I was hoping for. I didn’t get off to a good start and after 2-3 holes in, I started tightening up and had a ‘birdie free’ round. That’s not the phrase I want to be associated with, but that’s what it was,” said Lahiri, who found only 20% of the fairways, hit 50% greens in regulation and needed as many as 31 putts.
“I missed a lot of shots to the right and that’s not what I do usually. I missed a lot of opportunity early on and didn’t take advantage of the two par-5s and I found too many fairway bunkers.” “I got my speeds on the green a little wrong; left a couple in the jaw and a couple lipped out. So, I need to work on the speed and tempo. Still 5-over is not where I should be but I still feel I can make a bunch of birdies tomorrow.”
Niggle in the neck
Lahiri admitted to not having had a good sleep for 2-3 nights here in Carnoustie and the unease led to a niggle in the neck.
American Tony Finau showed there were a lot of birdies to be had, eight in total, but also dropped four bogeys in his 67. Brandon Stone, who shot 60 on Sunday enroute to winning the Scottish Open and making it to the Open, carded 68. Augusta Masters champion Patrick Reed shot a 75.
Earlier, veteran Scot Sandy Lyle, the champion way back in 1985, had the honour of hitting the opening tee. He striped an iron down the middle of the fairway on the way to shooting 75.