5 things we learned Thursday at the 2018 Open Championship

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5 things we learned Thursday at the 2018 Open Championship

The dirt during the run-up to Carnoustie and the 2018 Open Championship wasn’t exactly dirt, but it wasn’t far off. The brown fairways, the nearly-as-fast-as-the-greens stimpmeter readings, and the lunar bounces and run-outs signaled something not far from the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last month.

Names like Molinari, Fleetwood, Koepka and Reed were mentioned as challengers for the Claret jug. When Thursday arrived, the winds did not blow and the rains failed to fall. Carnoustie offered hope across the front nine, then exacted her revenge over her closing stretch.

We learned a few things about how this year’s curse, and tournament, will play out over the weekend. It’s your turn to find out what we discovered.

1. No layup is safe, no bunker or burn is out of reach

We watched in disbelief as Tiger Woods hit 6-iron 277 yards into a drive-zone bunker. We sat aghast as Sergio Garcia drove 400 yards into the Barry Burn, then played out of the brine. Those fairways at the mouth of the river Tay were a hacker’s dream and a tournament professional’s nightmare. Yardage books and round strategies might go out the window after round one. Carnoustie’s lumps and lows carom balls across the pasture with reckless, unpredictable abandon. Conclusion: three more days of viewing enjoyment.

Watch until the end ????

— The Open (@TheOpen)

2. The greens beguile, no matter the speed, no matter the golfer

The commentators were inconsistent with their explanations on how the putting surfaces changed as the day wore on. As soon as one said that the greens firmed up as the day went on, another suggested that they slowed down. The winds did pick up a bit, explaining the drying of the putting surfaces throughout the day. The biggest victim was Tiger Woods, who could not dial in his lag speed, and left putt after putt some five feet shy of the hole. Some he made, some he missed. Know this: the big cat awakened with a stiff neck, requiring the application of medical tape. The oddest bit of apparel since Martin Kaymer’s 2011 scarf had wags and fans wondering how badly hurt he was.  All things considered, even-par 71 was a triumph for Tiger Woods.

3. It isn’t smart to bet against Brooks Koepka

The tougher the challenge, the higher he rises. The course brought the two-time US Open champion to his literal knees, with two doubles and two singles over a five-hole stretch on the front nine. By day’s end, he stood a bit taller at one over, 72. For those who think he’s out of it, he was six back of the first round leader at Shinnecock in June, and today, he sits 6 shots behind Kevin Kisner after day one of The Open.

Note to self… avoid the bunkers

Leaderboard

— The Open (@TheOpen)

4. Tony Finau wants us to believe in him

A month after he played in Sunday’s final pairing at the US Open, Finau is again in the mix in a major championship. Finau etched 8 birdies on his card, signed for four under, 67, and sat in a three-person tie for 2nd after day one. Easily ranking as one of the most relaxed, restrained players of championship golf, today Finau was electric, but four bogeys per round won’t do over the next three days.

The putts are starting to drop . Tony Finau moves to -2

Full Scoring

— The Open (@TheOpen)

5. And your leader is…

Kevin Kisner. The South Carolina native began with four fours then made his only bogey of the round at the fifth . Unfazed, he eagled the sixth and uncovered four birdies over the closing 12 holes, for 66. The two-time PGA Tour winner wasn’t flawless from tee to green. He depended greatly on the flat stick to salvage his round. Par putts over the closing holes all dropped in, from six to 26 feet, and Kisner was atop the board after 18 holes. Odds are he won’t stay there, as no one makes all his putts. Kisner will need to find his approach play tomorrow to remain in the mix.

?? ROUND IN 60 SECONDS ?? is top of the leaderboard after shooting -5 to card an impressive 66 ????

— The Open (@TheOpen)

5 things we learned Thursday at the 2018 Open Championship

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