Rickie Fowler stepped up to the first tee at The Plantation Course and hit the opening drive to kick off the 2013 season for the third time in four days. Difference on Monday morning? It was actually official. Beforehand, Fowler tweeted, “Scene 1…take 3.”
Fowler, who played with Jason Dufner, got the opening event off to a nice pace, completing the first 18 in less than four hours, which is very impressive on this track. As you may have heard, it’s not exactly the easiest course to to walk. In fact, it’s the most strenuous of the year. But after the week that would never end — or should I say, start — the players were ready to get things going.
With the wind blowing steadily at 20-30mph and gusts up to 40mph at PGA West, Matt Jones fired a solid four-under 68 at the Stadium course (the “harder” of the two venues) in the second round of Q-school on Thursday. While there’s still a long way to go, he’s tied for second with a 36-hole total of nine-under — not a bad start.
Earlier this morning I was nearly blown over walking from the parking lot to the media center at Royal St. George’s. It was gusting. And if it’s that windy inland, then it’s even gustier on the course, especially near the 6th tee, 7th hole and 13-15. The pins are bending like contortionists and conditions are supposed to worsen around the time the last group, Darren Clarke and Dustin Johnson, tee off. Yippee, right? Players on the course needed to take advantage of the last hour or two.
Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen would absolutely be the coolest name to ever win a British Open. Obviously no lead is safe in these conditions, demonstrated so sadly by Rory McIlroy (above), who shot 63 Thursday, but was already at 63 through 14 holes today. (He finished with an 80, nearly a stroke per hole worse than Thursday, to drop to 1-under.)
But Oosthuizen holds a five-shot lead over 50-year-old Mark Calcavecchia, the largest 36-hole cushion since Bobby Clampett in 1982, after shooting an early morning 67 to reach 12-under for the championship. (That’s somewhat of an ominous stat, since Clampett plummeted from 11-under to even to eventually lose by four.)
Winds approaching 50 miles per hour at St. Andrews on Sunday greeted Tiger Woods in his first practice round for this week’s British Open. Woods pulled out just a 3-wood in an attempt to drive the 357-yard 18th hole.
“Nobody can play St. Andrews like this,” Woods said.
Scott Verplank hit a putt on the fourth green 10 feet past the hole, and then watched as the wind blew his ball 20 feet behind him.