Fergus Bisset reports from the course, mid-way through day one of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool
Nick Bonfield and I have returnd from a couple of hours with the army of golf fans who are out in the sunshine to catch some of the early action at Hoylake. The crowds are huge for day one and there’s already been some great golf for them to savour.
It’s just fabulous out there. It’s warm with just a very light wind, and the course looks even better in the flesh than it does on the TV. The fairways are like carpets and they’re lined by rough populated by rusty-topped grasses and a smattering of meadow flowers. The tempting smell of a “Hog Roast” drifts on the breeze towards happy punters enjoying a pint or three outside one of the frequent outposts of “The Open Arms.” Heaven on earth I reckon.
Nick and I struck out from the media centre and headed round the back of the 4th green to the 8th tee. We caught up there with Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson and Hunter Mahan. We strolled with them up the 8th fairway then cut over towards the par-5 10th. We found a great vantage point behind the green there from where we could see the players firing in their seconds to this reachable long hole.
It was a great spot at the farthest point on the course with a clear view and relatively small galleries. We saw the good the bad and the ugly out there –
The good in the shape of three very tidy, two-putt birdies for Gallacher, Dubuisson and Mahan;
The bad from Nick Faldo who had an eagle putt from the back of the green but failed to get it within eight feet of the hole, then missed the next one;
And the ugly from Graeme McDowell who hit a smother/hook for his second shot – reminiscent of the one that destroyed his chances in the last round at Lytham in 2012. This one careered through the semi-rough, over the spectator walkway and into an unplayable lie in the neck high “bund” towards the boundary of the course. He took a penalty drop onto the walkway before completely misjudging his fourth, firing it well through the green. He failed to get up and down and carded a seven – a disaster on a hole that must be viewed as a straightforward birdie chance. After tapping in for double bogey, McDowell swished his putter in frustration and shouted something that wouldn’t go down well on daytime television.
There’s a bit of anger out there today actually. We also heard Kristoffer Broberg uttering something he shouldn’t and, hard to believe but true, a four-letter word (although not a very bad one) came from the lips of Sir Nick Faldo after he’d missed the birdie putt mentioned above. I’ve also just seen a clip of Henrik Stenson snapping his 4-iron in half before handing it to his caddy. Good old Henrik – he talked in his pre-tournament press conference about the importance of keeping his cool on the fairways and about how he needs to stay patient. Looks like he still has some work to do.