Open Championship: Louis Oosthuizen, back in the mix again


Yahoo Sports 16 July, 2021 - 01:43pm 24 views

Why did zalatoris withdraw from the British Open?

Will Zalatoris withdrew from The 149th Open Championship on Friday, citing a back injury suffered while hitting out of heavy rough late in his opening-round 69. “I am beyond disappointed,” he said in a statement on social media. pgatour.comWill Zalatoris withdraws from The Open with injury

What is the cut line for the Open?

How is the cut line determined? The cut line at 36 holes is the top 70 players plus those tied at the end of that group. DraftKings Nation2021 British Open cut: What is the cut line, how is it determined, who will miss it

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SANDWICH, England (Reuters) -Jordan Spieth gave his big-hitting fellow American Bryson DeChambeau a masterclass in the complexities of links golf as the former champion began his latest British Open campaign in fine style on Thursday.

Spieth, who claimed the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale in 2017 but whose form has slumped, recovered from an early bogey to card a five-under 65 -- producing a beautifully controlled round in a moderate breeze around the Royal St George's layout.

Playing partner DeChambeau crunched a few trademark monster drives but all too often found himself chopping out of thick rough on his way to a disappointing one-over 71.

Three successive birdies on the back nine appeared to have got things moving but a wild tee shot on the 15th left him in knee-deep hay and cost him a bogey.

The 2020 U.S. Open champion launched another huge drive on the 17th but a poor approach shot ended with a three-putt bogey while another rip-roaring tee shot on the 18th and deft chip should have earned him a birdie but he slid a putt past.

It was all a bit underwhelming for the flat-cap wearing giant and the galleries who had followed the group expecting fireworks were left admiring the craft of Spieth.

Spieth had the world at his feet in 2017 when his British Open title meant he joined Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win three of golf's four majors before the age of 24.

Since then it has been a struggle and he ended 2020 in 82nd place in the world rankings.

There have been encouraging signs that the former world number one is emerging from the slump as he tied for third at the Masters a week after winning the Texan Open -- his first Tour title since his Royal Birkdale triumph.

Spieth found 64% of fairways on Thursday and putted tidily although he looked disappointed to miss birdie opportunities on the 17th and 18th. The omens look good though as he matched his opening-round 65 at Royal Birkdale.

After last year's Open cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spieth said it was great to be back and playing on a course he described as "a really fun kind of cool, tricky track.

"I came in here and I've been in a really good mood about it," Spieth, who made four birdies in a row having rolled in a long putt at the fifth, told reporters.

"I think the Open brings a lot of the feel aspect into the game. You're less swing-focused here and more shot-focused.

"The second you take your brain off the shot you're hitting you may not find your ball."

DeChambeau said in the build-up that his length could be an advantage this week if he could stay out of the 'hay' but he left the driver in the bag on occasions during his first round and still could not locate the fairways.

He did just that on the opening hole but his iron was errant and he ended up with a bogey.

After that it was a mixed bag with his driving accuracy below 30% -- hardly a recipe for making an impression at a tournament in which he has missed the cut in two of his three previous appearances.

"If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway that's great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks," DeChambeau said after his round.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)

SANDWICH, England (Reuters) -Former champions Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth sparkled in the morning sunshine to set the pace in the first round of the 149th British Open at Royal St George's on Thursday. South African Oosthuizen, the winner in 2010, made six birdies in a flawless 64 to finish on six under par, one shot ahead of American Spieth, champion in 2017. Brian Harman matched compatriot Spieth with a 65 to share second place, one clear of Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, South African Dylan Frittelli, Frenchman Benjamin Hebert and Americans Webb Simpson and Stewart Cink, another former champion.

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Welcome to a kinder, gentler Royal St. George's at The Open ... but will it stay that way?

ESPN 16 July, 2021 - 03:10pm

SANDWICH, England -- The mean-spirited among us prefer to see whitecaps on the English Channel, umbrellas breaking in half, waterproofs as the preferred clothing. If the wind wants to howl at a reasonably high rate, that would be good, too.

That is Open weather. The kind that showcases -- and sometimes exposes -- the best golfers in the world. It can be maddening and frustrating, but it is pure entertainment for the golf public that enjoys seeing professionals endure the elements at the game's oldest championship.

Of course, Mother Nature does not always cooperate. And there are many who were just fine with the rather pleasant day that unfolded at Royal St. George's for the opening round of the final major championship of 2021.

There was sunshine for a good while and not a hint of rain. There was plenty of wind, however, but not enough to keep several players from breaking par. Watching Thursday would make you wonder what all the fuss was about.

"Why don't we love it?'' said England's Paul Casey, who began the tournament with a 68. "Because it's so damn difficult. It is.''

Casey grew up in Weybridge in the county of Surrey and recalled matches against the county of Kent played at Royal St. George's when he was an amateur.

"It was just hard; a hard, hard golf course to play,'' he said. "It wasn't enjoyable.''

And yet on Thursday, Louis Oosthuizen shot 64 to take the first-round lead, just the sixth score of 64 or better in the 15 Opens played at Royal St. George's dating to the late 1800s.

Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman are a shot back. There were nearly 50 players under par. And the average score for the day was only slightly over par. That is unheard of for an Open, especially one at Royal St. George's, where Tiger Woods hit the fairway with his opening tee shot in 2003, then saw it bounce into the rough. The ball was never found. He started with a 2-shot penalty and a triple-bogey 7.

He ended up finishing 2 strokes behind Ben Curtis.

"Slightly out of order, isn't it?'' Casey said of what happened to Woods. "I think that is why setup can kill people's enjoyment of this golf course. The setup this week is phenomenally good.''

And perhaps that is why the scoring was rather good. And perhaps why there have been less shots taken at the course.

Brooks Koepka was just being honest when he said early in the week that it wasn't his favorite, due to all the blind shots. Rory McIlroy pretty much hated it 10 years ago when he came to Royal St. George's as the reigning U.S. Open champion and walked away frustrated after a tie for 25th.

But McIlroy noted that some of the hard edges have since been lessened. Some of the moonscape that the course is noted for -- the mounds and humps in the middle of fairways -- are less severe due to summer rain and, perhaps, with some direction to the Royal St. George's crew via the R&A.

In this edition of America's Caddie, Michael Collins travels to the UK to tour The Open Championship host town of Sandwich & talk to 3-time Open winner Sir Nick Faldo. Stream now on ESPN+

"We're very conscious that this course has got a lot of very severe undulations in the fairways and in the landing areas,'' R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said. "We've been conscious right the way through to ensure that a ball that lands on that doesn't get kicked off at a pace that could take it into deep, deep rough. It is a bit greener out there than you would have seen at some other courses, and that's purposeful.''

It is pretty rare for those in charge of setting up tournaments to admit they were concerned about a course being unfair.

But that is part of what is going on this week, and part of the reason you are seeing a lot more smiles than frowns.

"I would say if anything just a little bit of softness,'' said Spieth, who played the course for the first time in competition and shot 5-under 65. "I kind of got away with a couple tee shots in the first cut that maybe if it was firmer may have worked their way just into the fescue. I'm sure for a lot of people it's the same way.

"It's a course where you have so much undulation in the fairways that if it gets firmer, it gets very bounce-dependent. That's what I had heard coming in. Then after playing it you can see that. The wind is up, and the pins are on knobs and crowns and they've done ... they put a few pins in some really fun spots for us [Thursday] where you could get at them in some bowls. But that's only a few of the holes. The rest of them, they're on some of the more difficult locations to kind of separate the field out. If you're really striking it well or you're not, you end up in better positions versus not.''

Spieth was aware of the course's reputation before he arrived and tried to keep an open mind.

"Historically I've come into venues I've never seen before in any tournament and I've always just tried to find something I love about it,'' he said. "I came in here and I've been in a really good mood about it. I thought, 'Man, this could be a really fun kind of cool, tricky track.' It's certainly odd compared to some of the other ones.''

The forecast for the rest of the tournament calls for temperatures in the high 60s and a pretty brisk breeze that could gust up to 25 mph. That can cause fits, as the best in the world are filled with doubt when they are unsure what impact the wind will have, especially on a links where there are so many odd bounces and breaks.

Continued wind means the course is likely to get firmer and faster, bringing some of those old concerns that gave Royal St. George's a less-than-stellar reputation back into play. Unless, of course, the powers-that-be step in.

"I think the architecture is absolutely phenomenal,'' Casey said. "Some of the best bunkering and green approaches. The only reason it never makes my top sort of five in the U.K. is one too many blind tee shots for my liking. And that's my personal preference. But that's kind of a weak excuse for not putting it in my top five, isn't it? But there's several. You tend to lose sight of the golf ball quite frequently on the tee shots.

"But the fact that they moved the first fairway slightly left this year is a great example. Tiger's tee shot right down the middle [in 2003] rolled off to the side and he lost the golf ball. Crazy. I think that is why setup can kill people's enjoyment of this golf course. The setup this week is really good.''

The setup is good. The weather is good. And, so far, the golf is good.

The 149th Open: Louis Oosthuizen sets new scoring record of 129 after second-round 65

Sky Sports 16 July, 2021 - 02:44pm

Louis Oosthuizen met the challenge of debutant Collin Morikawa with a record-breaking performance earning the South African a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of The 149th Open.

Morikawa would have harboured high hopes of heading into the weekend at Royal St George's on top of the leaderboard after defying his lack of Open experience to fire a seven-birdie 64 to set the early clubhouse target at nine under par.

Last year's PGA champion was three shots clear of the field when he signed his card, but Oosthuizen prospered in the afternoon session under clear blue skies and with precious little wind to contend with, adding a 65 to his opening 64 to become the first player in Open history to shoot 129 over the first two rounds.

Jordan Spieth's 67 left him three adrift of the leader after 36 holes, while world No 1 Dustin Johnson added to the glut of sub-70 scores among the later starters, a birdie at the last capping a 65 that got him to seven under.

Pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm powered into contention with a 64 and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is also within touching distance of the leader, but Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau are 11 and 12 shots behind respectively as both had to scramble hard just to make the cut.

Oosthuizen led by one shot overnight but found himself three behind as he headed to the first tee, and he made instant inroads into Morikawa's lead when he birdied the first before following a steady run of pars with a good four at the long seventh.

A birdie at the 12th not only drew him level with the young American, but it also triggered an impressive three-hole surge as he picked up another shot at 13 before holing from outside 20 feet for eagle at the next, completing his transition from three behind to three ahead with four holes to play.

"To have any record at the Open, or part of any record at the Open is always very special," said Oosthuizen, six times a runner-up in majors, including two this year. "I think I've played really good the last two days. I probably played a bit better yesterday in the conditions we were playing in.

"Today we got really lucky over the last nine holes. It was as good a weather as you can get playing this golf course. All of us took advantage of that. I think in our three-ball we had a 64 and two 65s, which you don't really see around a links golf course."

Jonathan Thomson lit up The Open on day two with a sensation hole-in-one at the 16th

Oosthuizen, whose score of 129 was just one short of Koepka's all-time major record, is determined to stay grounded and avoid thoughts of running away with the title as he did at St Andrews in 2010, where he cruised to a seven-shot triumph.

"The game is good, but I know it's a really good leaderboard," he added. "You try not to think of it until you've done it. I remember looking back at 2010, and I know I had a big lead, but the first time I really thought about winning was after my tee shot on 17.

"There were a lot of things that could go wrong at St Andrews coming in, and a lot of things can happen around here. I don't think you want to think too much of it on a links course until you get to that 18th green, and hopefully you have a lead."

But he was one of several players who fell just short of matching the course record after he missed from six feet to drop a shot at the 15th and parred in to settle for a 64 which had him three ahead of Daniel van Tonder, Emiliano Grillo and Marcel Siem as the afternoon wave headed out.

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Johnson atoned for an early mistake with three birdies in four holes on the outward half, and he picked up three in a row from the 12th before hitting back from another bogey at 15 with a three at the last to return to seven under shortly after Oosthuizen's compatriot Dylan Frittelli had signed for a 67 to end the day four behind.

Scottie Scheffler is also seven under after the WGC Match Play runner-up saved par from 12 feet at the last to cap a 66, while 2016 Ryder Cup star Andy Sullivan handed in a second straight 67 to install himself as leading Englishman ahead of Paul Casey.

Koepka birdied the final three holes to card a 66 and jump to five under, with Rahm responding to his disappointing first-day 71 with six birdies in a bogey-free 64, and he will be confident of making a significant dent in Oosthuizen's advantage on Saturday having pipped the South African to the US Open title last month.

But McIlroy's chances of ending his major drought look slim after he was forced to call on his mental fortitude to recover from a bogey-bogey start, needing a second birdie of the week at the last to shoot 70 and stay at level par and one ahead of DeChambeau, whose off-course distractions are generating more headlines than his golf on the Kent coast.

2021 British Open leaderboard breakdown: Jordan Spieth, Collin Morkiawa pushing Louis Oosthuizen 16 July, 2021 - 02:41pm

The top of the leaderboard through 36 holes at the 149th Open Championship features plenty of star power as a pair of past champions pushed themselves into contention Friday and some of the sport's best talents are in the hunt entering the weekend at Royal St. George's. Louis Oosthuizen is the solo leader atop the field at 11 under after he played nearly another bogey-free round for a second consecutive day, turning in a 65 that fell one stroke shy of the low round of the week after his 64 on Thursday.

The 2010 Open Championship winner's combined 129 strokes through 36 holes set a new Open Championship record, falling one shot lower than the prior record mark of 130 previously held by Brandt Snedeker (2012) and Nick Faldo (1992).

Jordan Spieth, the 2017 Open Championship winner, is hot on Oosthuizen's heels after a second-round 3-under 67 that moved him to 8 under for the championship. Collin Morikawa is sandwiched between the two and second on the leaderboard at 9 under after he posted the low round of the early wave Friday with a 6-under 64. 

That's just a sampling of some of the stars who will carry contention hopes to Round 3 Saturday as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all had big days moving up the leaderboard. Check out a breakdown of the action below and catch up on highlights from the first round in the updates section.

1. Louis Oosthuizen (-11): It was nearly a perfect round for Oosthuizen on Friday as he came within a stroke of tying his own low round of the week. Oosthuizen did not have a bogey at Royal St. George's until No. 16 in Round 2, yet he still came in with a 3-under 32 on the back after playing holes 12-14 at 4 under. 

2. Collin Morikawa (-9): No player in men's golf history has won in his debut in two separate major championships, but Morikawa is potentially on the cusp of doing exactly that after a strong showing Friday. He came one stroke short of tying the course record at Royal St. George's with his second-round 64, becoming just the sixth golfer at the venue to post a 64 or lower in an Open Championship. 

3. Jordan Spieth (-8): A 3-under 67 round for Spieth on Friday gives him his second-best 36-hole start at a major championship in his young career. The previous best and third-best starts for him -- the 2015 Masters and 2017 Open Championship -- account for two of his three major championships. 

T4. Dustin Johnson, Dylan Frittelli, Scottie Scheffler (-6): After a slow start to Round 1 on Thursday, D.J. closed with a flourish on the back and carried that momentum into Round 2 with a front nine 33. He came home in 32 and played the last seven at 3 under. It's his ninth career round of 65 or better in a major championship, the most among all golfers, according to Justin Ray. This is the debut Open Championship showing for Scheffler, 25, and the second time Frittelli has made the cut at The Open in four tries. Both are seeking their first career win at a major after career-best finishes at the U.S. Open last month.

T12. Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and two others (-5): Koepka after his second-round 66 had a little extra pep in his step when he took a a subtle shot at Bryson DeChambeau, declaring, "I love my driver." He closed his round with four birdies over his final five holes. Rahm's 64 tied for low-round of the week and he enters Saturday having completed his last 27 holes without a score over par.

Louis Oosthuizen: 1st player to lead outright after each of first 2 rounds in an Open at Royal St George's since 1934 (Henry Cotton)

What a 65 from @DJohnsonPGA 👏 He's going into the weekend just four shots off the lead #TheOpen

Dustin Johnson with a major showing in Round 2 as he cards a 65 to move to 7 under for the championship. World No. 1 in the mix entering the weekend.

High expectations in the @SiemMarcel household 😂 #TheOpen

2021 British Open Round 2 Recap | Golf Podcast

"Phenomenal" 🙌@jigger_thomson talks through his hole-in-one at #TheOpen

A fantastic 64 for 2021 US Open Champion @JonRahmpga 👏 He's going into the weekend in contention at #TheOpen

🚨 RECORD BREAKER! 🚨@Louis57TM cards the lowest 36-hole score ever at #TheOpen 👏

Second-round 65 for Louis Oosthuizen as he holds a two-stroke lead entering the weekend. His score of 129 through 36 holes sets an Open Championship record previously held by Nick Faldo and Brandt Snedeker at 130.

World No. 2 Jon Rahm leaves a birdie putt on No. 18 that would've given him a 63 (!!) just short. He's in at 64, however, tying the low round of the week. 5 under through 36 holes.

Former Texas Longhorns @TexasMGolf currently make up 3 of the top-5 on the leaderboard at #TheOpen

Driving into the weekend!

Striding into the weekend 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♂️ #TheOpen

65-67 for Spieth, and he's -8 going to the weekend. He probably won't want such a shootout, but he can win them any way you want. He took the Masters at -18, the U.S. Open at -5 and his Open Championship at -12. Nothing about his first two days has dissuaded me from thinking major No. 4 is coming.

Jordan Spieth is in through 36 after a 3-under 67 today. Could've closed better but only one bogey on the back and he's just a few strokes off the lead entering Saturday.

Bryson DeChambeau with a two-putt par to narrowly make the weekend cut. Even-par round for him today.

Wait, D.J. is -7?! He makes three birdies in a row to get within two of second place and within four of the lead. He's had a terrible major championship season, but a win here would get him three legs of the grand slam. His best-ever finish at an Open came in 2011 at Royal St. George's when he finished T2 behind Darren Clarke.

.@bkoepka is amongst the pack at Royal St George's 🏆 His highlights from Round 2 👇 #TheOpen

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British Open intel: 10 notes to know on Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Rory McIlroy and more from Round 1

The Athletic 15 July, 2021 - 09:50pm

British Open intel: 10 notes to know on Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Rory McIlroy and more from Round 1

The 149th Open: Sergio Garcia requires police escort to make tee time at Royal St George's

Sky Sports 15 July, 2021 - 01:49pm

Sergio Garcia made an encouraging start to The 149th Open, but only after he needed some last-minute assistance from police to make it to Royal St George's.

The 2017 Masters champion birdied his final two holes to post a two-under 68 and stay within four strokes of early pacesetter Louis Oosthuizen, despite seeing his pre-round routine disrupted by heavy traffic around the Kent venue.

Sandwich's one-way system has caused miles of queues for players, officials and the 32,000 fans in attendance this week at the final men's major of the year, with the Spaniard left thankful for the police helping him to make it for his 10.31am tee time.

A look back at the best of the action from the opening round of The 149th Open at Royal St George's.

"Obviously very happy with the finish," Garcia said. "Even happier after how the morning started.

"Because of terrible traffic coming in, even though I left the house with plenty of time, I needed a little bit of help from a couple of very nice English policemen on the bikes to get me here with only about 35, 40 minutes to tee (time).

"Usually I like to be here around an hour and a half, hour and 25. It just, I don't know, we just got stuck. We couldn't move, and thankfully they helped us a little bit and got us here in time. I was able to do a very quick practice, very quick warm-up, but it worked out okay because I played nicely."

Garcia's 2016 Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Fitzpatrick was among the other players who saw their travel to the course affected, with the Englishman electing to walk to the course from his rented accommodation rather than risk getting stuck in traffic.

"I just walked to the golf course," Fitzpatrick told the PA news agency. "I looked outside and didn't want to take any risks, so we just walked.

"I've not done it before (at a tournament) but we've never been close enough. It's only a 15-minute walk so it's nothing really. People were walking slow so we were passing everyone and we got there in decent time."

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