Jul 19th, 2019
Tiger and Rory fade away
But the Boss Koepka looms
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
J. B. Holmes leads the Open after a fine 66 on day one but all the talk was about Tiger and Rory. Once again when the spotlight of expectation was on him McIlroy failed to deliver and Tiger, well Tiger just looked tired.
On a very lush green looking Royal Portrush with the greens running a very sedate 10.1 on the stimp meter the result – a score draw between this great course and the world’s best. The weather added to the challenge as we saw four seasons in one day as squally showers came through, the sun shone and the wind gusted and eased as the hours passed.
Close on the heels of Holmes is Shane Lowry of Ireland who shot a four under 67, although he promised better when he got to four under after just twelve holes. Behind Lowry are a whole gaggle on three under, including one Brooks Koepka. Once again, Koepka looked solid and under control as he posted an opening 68.
Siting alongside Kopeka are the Spanish duo of Segio Garcia and John Rahm and England’s Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton. Rahm was having a storming round and shared the lead with Holmes coming down the stretch but two bogies in the last four holes saw him slip back.
Thirteen shots back from Holmes sits one Rory McIlroy whose Open effectively came to an end after one hole. A pull out of bounds, a poor second tee shot and a penalty drop all added up to a quadruple bogey and a nightmare start.
A further shot went at the third and although he battled back with birdies at the 7th and 9th and parred the first six holes on the back nine he inexplicably collapsed over the final three holes. A double bogey at the 16th, including a missed tap in putt, was followed by a sloppy seven at the last.
Questions will quite rightly be asked about the character of the young Northern Irishman. Playing in an event, he would like to have won more than any other he has played, he seemed incapable of digging deep and grinding out a score. To miss a putt like he did at the 16th is unforgivable. You would never see Tiger Woods missing such a putt or get anywhere close to giving up.
So what of Tiger? Again the man looked uncomfortable from shot one of the day. Whether it his back or the fact he is struggling with his game, but he never looked like puting a score together. It took until the 15th for Tiger to register his first, and only, birdie of the day. Sadly that birdie only took him back to six over and a bogey at the last meant he signed for a 78 and sat tied 143rd.
After all the hype following the Masters the air seems to have gone out of the Tiger balloon. If it is not his back that is causing the bad play then questions must be asked about his preparations. Like a footballer needs to be match fit after coming back from injury so too surely must a golfer?
And another thing...