The 145th Open Championship has become a private party. The duel in the drizzle, 39 years on from epic events down the coast at Turnberry.
Frustration got the better of Rory McIlroy on moving day and by the end of it he had to find time to head over to the Nike truck by the driving range and get the head fixed back on to the fairway wood he crashed into the ground at the 16th causing the club-head to fly off.
Jason Day bucked the trend on Friday afternoon, completing his round in 70 to be the only man in the second half of the draw to finish with an under-par total.
Soren Kjeldsen’s specialism isn’t so much of the course and distance type. More, wind and rain. Could a golfer from Denmark revel in anything less?
Critics of the Open’s move away from live BBC television coverage have been given impetus after the peak audience for the first day of the championship dropped by almost 80%.
Phil Mickelson, at 46, will become the oldest golfer to win the Open since 1867 if he carries off the Claret Jug here. And there were a few moments on Friday when Scotland stopped trying to pretend it was Bermuda, when the rain cascaded over the links and the wind seemed keen to join the wrecking party that the American looked every one of his years.
In the tournament where Phil Mickelson cited divine intervention for denying him a place in the record books Henrik Stenson must believe he is worthy of some.
With a dodgy back and an Open record that even a chiropractor cannot do much about, Justin Rose was not really expected to dominate Jordan Spieth on the sunny links. But he hit four birdies in a an opening round of three under while Spieth, a fully paid-up member of golf’s Big Four, managed only level par after fluffing the final hole.
Billy Horschel was in no doubt.
Darren Clarke believes Thomas Pieters is a future world No1 with a talent comparable to Tiger Woods after confirming the Belgian will make his Ryder Cup debut for Europe at Hazeltine next month.
Jimmy Walker’s passion is astrophotography. It is unclear at which point he reckoned that, if taking pictures of the stars, he might as well shoot for them.
It was perhaps to the detriment of others involved in matches taking place at the time that the focus on the second afternoon of the WGC-Match Play Championship surrounded whether one player would take to the course at all.
The peak television audience for the final round of the Open Championship suffered a drop of around 75% on last year in the first broadcasting by Sky Sports of the oldest major.
When Jordan Spieth was tapping in at the 18th after leaving yet another birdie putt short to end his tournament at 2pm, the overnight leaders were still completing their final preparations and about to head out to dispute ownership of the Claret Jug for another year.
Thomas Pieters is involved in a late tussle with Luke Donald for the last place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team, with Darren Clarke to confirm his selection at Tuesday lunchtime.
Let us briefly visit a land where common sense prevails.
The confirmation Tiger Woods will not participate in the US PGA Championship represented little more than an exercise in administration with 2016’s final major lending itself to a multitude of more fascinating storylines.
A dispirited but candid Rory McIlroy admitted to a “pathetic” putting performance after missing the cut at the US PGA Championship to ensure 2016 will conclude without a major win for the Northern Irishman.
It is just as well Matt Fitzpatrick has retained his sense of humour. Otherwise questions surrounding his participation in the Ryder Cup – which have been going on for just short of 11 months – could have reduced the 21-year-old to a rambling wreck.
Despite forming part of a beaten European team and in a sentiment that will be widely shared, Rory McIlroy has suggested a Ryder Cup win for the USA at Hazeltine was a positive outcome for the future of the event.
The spectators tightly packed in the temporary grandstands along the 1st hole had been there for hours by the time Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed walked to the opening tee for the top singles match at 11.04am local time on Sunday, waving American flags that volunteers had distributed from brown cardboard boxes, sucking down Budweiser tallboys and gyrating to the Guns N’ Roses and John Cougar Mellancamp and Tom Petty that blared at ear-splitting volumes from the loudspeakers overhead as the sun climbed slowly over Lake Hazeltine.
If Rory McIlroy’s significance to Europe was obvious in advance of this Ryder Cup, few could have envisaged his rising status as battle fever gripped Hazeltine. McIlroy might be the most unlikely of pantomime villains given his routine popularity both on and off the course but that is precisely his role as cast by the galleries here.