- July 19, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Good morning, golf fans. Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s early developments in the first round of The Open Championship at Carnoustie:
KISNER ON FIRE: Kevin Kisner, making his fourth career start in the Open, was the tournament leader at noon local time. The two-time PGA TOUR winner kick-started his round with an eagle at the par-5 sixth, then made three consecutive birdies on his back nine to finish with a 5-under 66. In Kisner’s 13 major appearances, his lone top-10 finish is a T-7 at last year’s PGA Championship.
CANTLAY CONTENDING: Patrick Cantlay, making his Open Championship debut, was 3 under through 17. The 26-year-old Cantlay broke through with his first PGA TOUR win last year, winning in a playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
VEGAS ARRIVES: Jhonattan Vegas, battling visa issues and having difficulties with his travel schedule, did arrive in time to make his tee time. Vegas flew into Glasgow, then took a helicopter to Carnoustie in time to warm up on the range. He was 1 over through six holes.
NOT EXACTLY CAR-NASTY: Generally regarded as the toughest course in the Open rota, Carnoustie’s dry conditions and lack of wind allowed those with early tee times to get off to fast starts. South African Erik van Rooyen, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota, was in the second group out and shot a 4-under 67. One of his playing partners, Matthew Southgate, also played well, shooting 69. Danny Willet was in the next group and shot 69.
“I think they’ve done a great job of tucking the flags in a few spots to make it as difficult as possible,” said Willett, the 2016 Masters champ. “I think they realized the golf course is pretty gettable for some of the guys out there.”
SPEAKING OF SOUTHGATE: The Englishman is a member of Carnoustie, and was asked after his round if this week has lived up to his expectations. “Yeah, it has,” he replied. “I think, when I first arrived, I was a little disappointed. I think I built it up too much in my mind from the age of 10. A couple of things that you saw play through in your imagination, where you sort of saw things happen, and it unsettles me when things don’t quite go that way.
“For one thing, I always have this sort of vision in my head the little old Scottish fellow would meet me at the front door and call you ‘Mr. Southgate’ and you would feel all excited and stuff. It wasn’t. It was a young American girl sort of flashy, ‘Let me show you around.’ And I thought, I don’t really need showing round. I’ve been a member since I was 16. It kind of threw me a little bit.
“Once I went in the clubhouse and met a couple of members, I settled down. And even more so when I got on the golf course, and the first round has lived up to everything.”
SPIETH STARTS STRONG: Defending champion Jordan Spieth birdied two of his first four holes and was 2 under through eight.
RAHM’S BIG DRIVE: Jon Rahm managed to drive the green at the par-4 third hole, which is playing at 352 yards in the first round. That set up his first birdie of the day. The Spaniard was 2 under through seven.
TIGER IN THE AFTERNOON: Tiger Woods, playing in his first Open since 2015, is among the notable names with late-afternoon tee times. Woods tees off at 3:21 p.m. (10:21 a.m. ET) with Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox, the Scottish native who currently lives in Florida. Others with afternoon tee times include current FedExCup leader Dustin Johnson, U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Bubba Watson, who has won three times on TOUR this season.