Farmer Oosthuizen makes hay at Open while Shane Lowry fails to fire

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The Guardian 15 July, 2021 - 03:40pm 13 views

Where is the British Open?

Royal St. George's is the southernmost course in the British Open rotation and the closest to London, which is part of the reason it remains in the rotation. Though the Open began in Scotland at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, Royal St. George's was the first English course to host it. The New York TimesA British Open Comeback: A Two-Year Wait Ends at Royal St. George’s

Who is favored to win British Open?

2021 British Open odds to win: Jordan Spieth emerges as championship favorite after 65 in Round 1. Louis Oosthuizen is in the top spot on the leaderboard, but Jordan Spieth, who is one stroke off the lead after Thursday's first round, is the new favorite to win the 2021 Open Championship. CBSSports.com2021 British Open odds to win: Jordan Spieth emerges as championship favorite after 65 in Round 1

Oosthuizen’s sole major win came at the Open Championship in 2010, in which he demolished the rest of the field at St Andrews, winning by seven shots, the largest margin of victory in the Open since Tiger Woods in 2000. Since then he has become something of a nearly man, finishing second in majors on six occasions, including twice this year, at the US Open (behind Rahm) and the PGA Championship (behind Phil Mickelson).

If Oosthuizen started slowly, Lowry began abysmally with two bogeys, twice finding the deepest rough off the tee. It would become a recurring theme for the Irishman. Rahm, who started 7-1 favourite despite losing his No 1 ranking to Dustin Johnson on Monday, did not fare much better.

At the 9th, Rahm found himself in a small but steep bunker off the tee, and after failing to get out of the sand with his first attempt, he could only then chip back on to the fairway before making settling for a double‑bogey six. Head bowed, he went past the halfway house in 37.

By the end of the round, Rahm’s dejection had turned to fury, twice shouting “fuck” to the galleries and dropping his club in frustration. After a vital birdie on the 18th, the 26‑year‑old’s one‑over‑par round of 71 feels flattering given his disappointing performance.

As it is, the best thing you can say about Lowry and Rahm is that they have not quite played themselves out of contention, although there could yet be a battle to make the cut on Friday.

In stark contrast, Oosthuizen was metronomic. There were no sensational par saves or remarkable birdies from the rough. In fact, the only time the South African did find himself in the deep stuff, at the par-five 14th, he simply chipped out on to the fairway and hit his next approach stiff to a few feet from the hole before knocking in for birdie to take his share of the lead.

Last month, the 38-year-old was making retirement plans after buying an 86-acre ranch in Ocala, Florida to add to the 150-acre farm he owns in South Africa (where he mostly grows hay for his brother, who has a dairy farm next door).

He admitted before this tournament that he “thought this time in my career I’d probably be more wanting to farm” and that “when it’s time and I feel I can’t compete, I’ll hang it up and enjoy life”. On this showing, Oosthuizen might have to keep the clubs out for a little longer, even if life on the farm seems tempting.

“I don’t need to play good or bad to be on the tractor,” he said with a laugh after his blemish-free 64.

Read full article at The Guardian

Shane Lowry fails to fire at Open as farmer Louis Oosthuizen makes hay

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Oosthuizen’s sole major win came at the Open Championship in 2010, in which he demolished the rest of the field at St Andrews, winning by seven shots, the largest margin of victory in the Open since Tiger Woods in 2000. Since then he has become something of a nearly man, finishing second in majors on six occasions, including twice this year, at the US Open (behind Rahm) and the PGA Championship (behind Phil Mickelson).

If Oosthuizen started slowly, Lowry began abysmally with two bogeys, twice finding the deepest rough off the tee. It would become a recurring theme for the Irishman. Rahm, who started 7-1 favourite despite losing his No 1 ranking to Dustin Johnson on Monday, did not fare much better.

At the 9th, Rahm found himself in a small but steep bunker off the tee, and after failing to get out of the sand with his first attempt, he could only then chip back on to the fairway before making settling for a double‑bogey six. Head bowed, he went past the halfway house in 37.

By the end of the round, Rahm’s dejection had turned to fury, twice shouting “fuck” to the galleries and dropping his club in frustration. After a vital birdie on the 18th, the 26‑year‑old’s one‑over‑par round of 71 feels flattering given his disappointing performance.

As it is, the best thing you can say about Lowry and Rahm is that they have not quite played themselves out of contention, although there could yet be a battle to make the cut on Friday.

In stark contrast, Oosthuizen was metronomic. There were no sensational par saves or remarkable birdies from the rough. In fact, the only time the South African did find himself in the deep stuff, at the par-five 14th, he simply chipped out on to the fairway and hit his next approach stiff to a few feet from the hole before knocking in for birdie to take his share of the lead.

Last month, the 38-year-old was making retirement plans after buying an 86-acre ranch in Ocala, Florida to add to the 150-acre farm he owns in South Africa (where he mostly grows hay for his brother, who has a dairy farm next door).

He admitted before this tournament that he “thought this time in my career I’d probably be more wanting to farm” and that “when it’s time and I feel I can’t compete, I’ll hang it up and enjoy life”. On this showing, Oosthuizen might have to keep the clubs out for a little longer, even if life on the farm seems tempting.

“I don’t need to play good or bad to be on the tractor,” he said with a laugh after his blemish-free 64.

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South Africa’s Branden Grace has played alongside the eventual winner in the first two rounds in both 2018 and 2019, with Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau getting the prized draw this year.

And although DeChambeau complained that his driver “sucks” after an opening 71, Spieth had no cause for concern following an opening 65 to lie a shot off the lead held by fellow former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

“I think that’s a coincidence,” Spieth said with a smile when asked about the ‘Grace effect’. “If it happens four or five times in a row, maybe people start paying to see who can get paired with him the first two rounds.

“I think that when you have a top-50, top-25 player in the world that Branden has been, he’s going to be in some pairings with guys who are certainly capable of winning major championships and it just so happened it was two years in a row.

“I did hear that ahead of time, though, which just made me laugh.”

Spieth, who claimed his first victory since winning the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale in his native Texas in April, bogeyed the third but bounced back with four straight birdies from the fifth and also picked up shots on the 15th and 16th.

The former world number one fell to 92nd in the world rankings following a missed cut in his first event of the season, but the 27-year-old has since recorded six top 10s in strokeplay events, including a tie for third in the Masters.

“I look back and I had a chance to win at least one of the majors each year when I felt like I had no idea where the ball was going which, I guess, could be bad and good,” the three-time major winner said.

“Golf is a game played between the ears, right? When it’s not going great, you can certainly lose quite a bit of confidence in it. That was the first time I’ve had to really try and build confidence back up, and it takes time.

“By no means do I feel like I’m where I want to be mechanically yet, but this year has been a really, really good progression for me, and all I’m trying to do is just get a little bit better each day.”

Oosthuizen, who won at St Andrews in 2010 and lost a play-off at the same venue five years later, carded a flawless six-under-par 64 to enjoy a one-shot lead over Spieth and Brian Harman, with 2009 champion Stewart Cink part of a five-strong group on four under.

Major champions Danny Willett and Justin Rose led the home challenge on three under alongside Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan, while Rory McIlroy birdied two of his last five holes in a battling 70 as US PGA winner Phil Mickelson slumped to an 80.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka returned a 69, while US Open champion and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm had to birdie the last to shoot 71, the same score as defending champion Shane Lowry.

Already a runner-up in all four major championships, Oosthuizen took his unwanted total of near misses to six by finishing second in both the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and the US Open at Torrey Pines this season.

Asked how he copes with such losses, the 38-year-old South African said: “It depends if you lost it or someone else beat you. In both of those I was beaten by better golf at the end.

“It takes a little while but you have to get over it quickly otherwise it’s going to hold you back from performing again.”

Oosthuizen currently leads the putting statistics on the PGA Tour and is so pleased with that part of his game that his old putters could even be consigned to a watery grave.

“I’ve got a bag there at home that I might just throw in a river someday,” Oosthuizen joked.

“I found one that I really like the look of and I worked on it. There were tournaments where I felt my stroke wasn’t great and I would actually change that putter then for the round. I didn’t want to have any bad memories of that putter being not good on the day.”

England’s Richard Bland had got play under way at 6.35am, the 48-year-old recognised for winning his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt in May and becoming the oldest halfway leader in US Open history last month.

Bland, who carded three birdies and three bogeys in his 70, added: “It was very special, very nerve-wracking. I was hoping I might get a good draw but that was something else. I’m very grateful to the R&A for considering me.”

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