I’ve just come back in after my first foray onto the Old Course. The sun is shining, there’s a slight breeze and golf’s “Grand Old Lady” is looking absolutely stunning.
The course is certainly greener than it was in 2005. Recent rain has kept it looking pretty lush. But, from what I saw, the fairways were running out well. J.B Holmes killed a drive off the tee at the 453 yard second and, even though it was wind assisted, it must have rolled a considerable distance to end just 50 yards short of the putting surface.
Ernie Els said earlier today that the greens are in the best shape he’s ever seen them and that the course is starting to firm up nicely. He also said he was a big fan of the change made to the 17th. Ernie reminisced about watching Tom Watson fire a 2-iron into the Road Hole green in 1984 and he’s glad that the demand to play that sort of shot will return.
Dustin Johnson wasn’t required to play that sort of shot for his approach to the 17th when I watched him, Phil Mickelson and Nick Faldo, play the hole. Dustin killed his drive into the middle of the fairway and was left with no more than a 7-iron in. Mickelson, ever unpredictable, played a 3-wood from the tee. I think it was to guarantee he didn’t reach the thick rough through the fairway, whatever his reason it left him an extremely long and tough shot in. The less said about Faldo’s effort the better, the words low, pull and hook would cover it.
Conditions today are perfect, just what we want when competition starts on Thursday – it’s breezy but not windy and warm but not hot. The course is green but firm and the putting surfaces are immaculate and quick. Unfortunately the forecast doesn’t look quite so promising so the situation may well have changed before Paul Lawrie hits the opening tee shot at 6.30am on Thursday morning.