Mark O’Meara was certainly feeling the nerves of hitting the opening shot of this year’s Open Championship, as it will be the last time he competes in the event. His first shot went sailing out of bounds to the right, and it only got worse from there.
The 1998 winner of the event put his next shot in a fairway bunk on the left side of the hole and proceeded to take four shots to finish the hole with a quadruple- bogey. That set the tone for the rest of his day as he would go on to shoot an 11-over 81.
“I was a little bit nervous but I wouldn’t say I was overly nervous,” O’Meara said.
“Early on it was tough only because it was raining. When you’re not playing good and the course is playing pretty tough, and I’ve seen it way, way worse than this, you can still get it around Birkdale. The conditions were a little trying but it wasn’t impossible. The wind was obviously completely different. It’s more of the wind that normally happens here. In the practice rounds it was coming the other direction, and there wasn’t much in the practice rounds.”
The 59-year-old may have encountered a rough start to his final open but let’s look at the positive shots from day one.
Clubhouse leaders Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, and Jordan Spieth all carded five-under 65’s on Thursday morning.
Spieth was not great off the tee in the first round, but he made up for it with stealth irons and precision putting. Could we be looking at the 24-year-old returning to his 2015 form? (top-5 finishes in every major that season)
This eagles shot from the green-side bunk certainly gave Stuart Manley some momentum as he finished the first round with a 2-under 68.
This shot from Kevin Na was not from Thursday’s round, but an ace during a practice round is still special. Like Manley Na finished his first round with a 2-under 68.
It will be interesting to see the storylines develop for this major: is Spieth back to his old self? Will the hometown kid Tommy Fleetwood make a run at the Claret Jug? Or will a seasoned veteran like Phil Mickelson take home the title?