Jimenez leads but Watson is Open hero
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2009 British Open | Round One | 17 Jul 2009
In probably the most perfect scoring conditions imaginable, day one of the 138th Open Championship at Turnberry has seen a massive 50 players complete their opening round under par.
The day started in heavy overcast conditions but by late morning the sun had broken through and importantly, by Turnberry standards, the wind was almost non-existent. It became evident early in the day that the predicted monster that lay beneath Turnberry would not rear its head on day one and after a slow start over the first hour or so the birdies began to flow.
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez leads after day one, his opening round of 64 just one short of the course record and he leads the event by one over two former champions in Ben Curtis and Tom Watson and Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya who is playing in just his second Open Championship but who is a four time winner on the Japan Golf Tour.
Jimenez, who played in the afternoon side of the draw, birdied his final two holes to grab the lead but it was the 59 year old Tom Watson who stole the limelight. Watson, who will be 60 on September 4th, turned back the clock, rekindling memories of his five Open Championships, the second of which came at this very venue 32 years ago. With a hip replacement in the past year and father time hardly on his side Watson was simply magnificent on a golf course where he has won not only the Open Championship but the Senior Open Championship also.
Watson was bogey free, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and hitting 15 greens and while the chances of victory for him this week are slim at best, his day one heroics have reignited the love affair British golf fans have for him and he has with them.
2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis has thrown out signals over the past 12 months that a second Open Championship is not beyond the realms of possibility. He finished runner up at the PGA Championship last year and 5th at the Tour Championship and he has played well on both sides of the Atlantic this season readying himself for the task this week.
Kuboya has been in fine form this year in Japan finishing second at the Crowns and third at the Mizuno Open which is the finish that got him a start this week. He, along with fellow countryman Ryo Ishikawa who opened with a round of 68 in the presence of Tiger Woods, will have the Japanese press in a photographic frenzy on day two.
Two Australians are in the group at 4 under and two behind the lead. John Senden was out very early and took full advantage of a late call up to the event with a round of 66. Later in the morning Mathew Goggin was another to shoot 66.
Terry Pilkadaris did well with a round of 68 especially give that he played in the final group of the day. Robert Allenby and New Zealanders David Smail and Josh Geary were the next best of the Australasians with rounds of 70. Geary, playing in his first Open Championship, has made a dream start and although he still faces a tough task to make what appears at this stage to be a low cut he will be delighted with his first effort especially given the two late birdies to finish.
Pre tournament favourite Tiger Woods is again playing catch up opening with a one over par round of 71. He has a big task ahead of him as not only is he 7 shots behind the lead but he has an amazing 67 players ahead of him.
The cut is as hard to predict as the Ayrshire weather but at this stage it appears as if it might fall around the 1 or 2 over par mark but very much subject to the conditions.