Bjorn and Lewis share Open lead
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2011 The Open Championship | Round One | 15 Jul 2011
Day one of the 2011 Open Championship has been completed and although the overhead conditions were less than ideal, especially early, the scoring on the par 70 layout highlighted a golf course where low scores were possible.
35 players finished the opening round under par, the best of them being Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and the English amateur Tom Lewis who recorded rounds of six under 65.
Bjorn has history at this layout, having let a massive opportunity to win a major championship in 2003 slip when he dropped four shots in three holes late in his round on Sunday to present the title to Ben Curtis, but today was the first to complete his round.
Also in 2003 Bjorn had quadrupled the 7th hole in the opening round but there would be no such mistakes this year. He is a glass half full kind of guy.
“A lot of people have asked me about what I feel about 2003 Open, said the 40 year old. “I mean, it’s in the past. I’ve worked very hard in my career to get myself in them positions. I got in that position in ’03, and that was my biggest chance to win a major championship. I got close in ’05 at Baltusrol, but that was my biggest chance.
“I’ve always promised myself I’ll keep going and keep going. People can do whatever they want, write you off, and they can do whatever they think is the right thing of looking at you, but when you live in a career that’s there ahead of you, you try and make the best of every single day. And that’s what I’ve done."
“It was a good day,” added Bjorn when stating the obvious soon after his round. “I promised myself today I would go out and focus on every single shot ahead of me and go after every single shot, and I did that.
“I rolled in a few putts here and there, and it turned out to be a day of just feeling really solid with everything I did. I did some work with Pete Cowen yesterday on the range, and there was a couple of things there that started to make sense after a few tough weeks on Tour. I felt comfortable yesterday, and I felt comfortable on the golf course today. I hit pretty much all the shots I wanted to hit, and I walked off with a round of 65, which is very pleasing.”
Bjorn was a late inclusion in the field and felt in some ways as if that may have helped his preparation. “I was asked last weekend if I would go if I was reserve, and I said I would definitely go down here if I was first reserve, and that kind of materialized through the weekend there.
I came down here on Sunday night, and Monday wasn’t the greatest of days. “You don’t really know what you’re doing. But when I got in Monday night, it gave me a couple of days to prepare, and I just kind of promised myself to try and enjoy it. I wasn’t really over-expecting to play in this championship. There were a lot of pull-outs in the last week leading into this.
“So I never really expected to play in it. So there’s no reason to get too uptight. I knew I wasn’t coming in the greatest of form, so just try and enjoy really being down here and try to use it more to find some form.”
Young (20) Englishman Tom Lewis impressed when he was in Australia late in 2010 to play several amateur and professional events. He finished runner-up to Peter O’Malley at the NSW Open and a very creditable 12th against a much stronger field at the Australian Open a week later.
“Obviously I play links courses all year, so I’ve had more advantage than anyone else in the field probably,” said Lewis describing his ease on links layouts. “So obviously I knew that if I did play well, which I was at the time, I could have shot a good score. But I didn’t really have a target in my head. I was just more nervous about making sure I hit the first tee shot and not messing up early. I hit a good shot into 3, and I think that settled the nerves.”
Today he was out in the latter half of the field and made a good solid start before unleashing a brilliant finish with four birdies in his last five holes. He was aided by a superb putting, especially early on when he one putted the first eight greens, but he was also assisted by the company of Tom Watson after who he had been named.
“My dad was a golfer and played on the European Tour for a couple of years,” said Lewis. “Tom Watson was his hero, so I was the first son, so I was Tom. And my brother was Jack, so you can imagine who that was after.”
So what would his dad think now? “I’m going to stay away from him because I think they’re going to be more excited than I am. So I’m going to keep my head down and have an early night. But I’ll probably get a phone call from my dad at some point. I think he’ll be thrilled. Tom was a gentleman today. I couldn’t have asked for a better pairing. It was excellent. I’m going to have to do three more of them for him to really be impressed.”
He was aware of the publicity his start will generate but was keeping it in perspective. “Well, yeah, I’m not a great reader so I won’t be reading any newspapers, and I’ll try and keep the TV off. So I’m going to just take it as another day.
“Golf is a four-day event, and tomorrow is the most important day for me. Hopefully I can get into red figures again, and if not, then I won’t be over the next day’s newspapers. Hopefully I can be in there for the rest of the week, but if not, that means I’ve not performed to the standard I’ve wanted to tomorrow and the next days.”
The pair atop the leaderboard leads by one over Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez and Americans Webb Simpson and 2009 US Open winner, Lucas Glover.
Pre tournament favourite Rory McIlroy struggled early but a birdie late in his round got him back to 1 over and a he has made a reasonable start.
World number one Luke Donald appeared to be losing his way when he dropped three shots during his back nine but, like McIlory, a birdie at the 17th has kept him in touch at 71.
The leading Australian is Kurt Barnes who is playing his second Open Championship. After an unsettling bogey at the first he recovered and finished strongly over the back nine for a round of 68. Barnes, a former Australian Amateur Champion, is an extraordinary talent and his recent win in Korea on the OneAsia Tour has provided him with a significant boost.
Adam Scott has also made an encouraging start with his opening round of 69. “Yeah, it’s a good start,” said Scott. “I’d love to be in the hunt Sunday. I enjoyed being in that position at the Masters so much, and that’s what I’ve worked hard every week since, to get myself in this position. So it’s a pleasing start."
Robert Allenby also had a round of 69 seemingly putting behind him the woes of 2011 to date and focusing on what lies ahead.
Richard Green had 70 and Jason Day battled back late for a round of 71, a score shared by Canberra’s Matthew Millar who is making his major championship debut.
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