Follow us shot-by-shot for the entire four days. We’ll be live blogging our way right through 72 holes until the final shot is hit on Sunday evening.
10:33 – 10.33 – Welcome to our live coverage of The Open Championship 2011 at Royal St George’s. The early leaders are underway, one of whom is US Open Champion Rory McIlory. Conditions are testing to say the least at this early stage as the wind is blowing. Most players have their rain jackets on but there has been no precipitation so far. The early leader on the scoreboard is none other than Thomas Bjorn. The Dane is on -3 at the moment.
Some of you will remember Bjorn’s demise at this very course in 2003. He had a two shot lead with three holes to play but took three attempts to get out of a bunker at the 16th hole and missed out by a shot. The winner of course that day was American Ben Curtis.
10:36 – 10.36 – For those of you wondering about Rory McIlroy, he is two over par after five holes. He opened up with a bogey on the first and followed up with another on the third. He is currently five off the lead, but one feels that if he gets through the day without too much harm and not too far off the lead he’ll be happy enough, particularly given that this is his first competitive round since his US Open triumph.
10:42 – 10.42 – Mark Calcavecchia is another man rolling back the years. He’s two under par with just three holes to play. He was one of the early starters at 06:41, the second group out on the course. I wonder what time he needed to get up at to make that? Probably one of those times you only ever see when you’re going to the airport for the cheapest flight going.
10:49 – 10.49 – The majority of players are packed in around par or one over. Only 63 players have teed of so far so there’s a long way to go before we begin to see any patterns emerging. One trend from what I’ve seen so far is that the bunkers are certainly coming into play, and they don’t make for the easiest of shots. Although BBC commentator and former Ryder Cup captain Mark James has reassured us that the bunkers contain some of the finest sand you’ll find, if that’s any reassurance to the players.
10:53 – 10.53 – Here is an early leaderboard for you to mull over. There are certainly some names lurking there who will have a big part to play on Sunday. Luke Donald is one who stand out. There’s a few former winners in there as well in the form of Stewart Cink, John Daly, David Duval and Paul Lawrie.
10:59 – 10.59 – The BBC coverage is focusing primarily on the marquee group of Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler. It’s almost like a father going out for a game with his two starlet sons. They have just completed the seventh hole. Els and Fowler both converted short birdie chances while McIlroy missed a six footer. His putter has certainly yet to warm up for him, it’s not the first he’s missed from that range.
11:03 – 11.03 – Thomas Bjorn is playing very nicely and has a chance to go to four under on the par-five 14th. His second shot finished around 60 yards short of the green and he has pitched up to about five feet for birdie. He is certainly setting the early pace and could well be posting the target for the later starters.
Meanwhile, Ernie Els misses the fairway on the eighth while the young Fowler and McIlory are comfortably in play.
11:06 – 11.06 – The first group out on the course at 06:30 this morning has just completed the 18 holes. England’s Danny Willett was the best of the three, posting a one-under par 69. Four hours and 30 minutes for the 18 is probably about right, but what are the chances that’ll continue all day?
Meanwhile, Bjorn converts his birdie and takes a two-shot lead.
11:09 – 11.09 – Luke Donald has just rattled the back of the cup on the seventh. He pulls his visor down over his face in embarrassment because he knows if his ball hadn’t gone in he’d have ended up about eight feet past. But the name of the game in golf is not how, it’s how many, and that birdie takes him back to one under for the day.
11:12 – 11.12 – Ernie Els is having a rough time, literally. He only manages to move his second shot on the eighth about 30 yards down the rough and doesn’t come out of trouble at all. On his next attempt, he tries to move it on again and it rolls through the fairway into even more rough. He’s in the deep stuff.
11:18 – 11.18 – Thomas Bjorn has been a joy to watch this morning. He’s driving it solidly, playing some fine approach shots and converting his chances. His second shot on the 15th ends up five feet away and he puts it in the middle of the cup to move to five under.
2009 champion Stewart Cink is also going along nicely and birdies the 11th hole to move to three under.
Meanwhile, Mark Calcavecchia misses a five-footer on his 18th hole to finish with a one-under par 69.
11:24 – 11.24 – Peter Alliss is in the box now for the BBC and tells us that “it’s not an attacker’s day.” He follows that up with “defend, defend, defend.” You wouldn’t say they’re burning it up out there, but there are certainly birdies to be had from what we’ve seen so far.
Miguel Angel Jimenez holes a snake of a putt on number 12 to move to three under. It went down a hill, then up a hill, then left, the down a hill and into the hole. I’ve gone on shorter holidays.
11:28 – 11.28 – Thomas Bjorn won’t be repeating his 2003 tragedy on the 16th hole today. He plays another beauty into about seven feet this time and rolls in the putt to move to six under. On Monday the man wasn’t even in the tournament. He was only on the reserve list but got a spot in the field due to the withdrawal of Vijay Singh. What a story it’d be…
Luke Donald has a chance on number eight, but lips out for the second time in three holes and remains one under.
11:30 – 11.30 – As Luke Donald tees it up on the ninth hole, we’re told by the commentators that “there is a fairway out there somewhere.” Nice to know, that. Anyone who follows Donald’s line will certainly find it anyway, he split it down the middle.
11:36 – 11.36 – Ernie Els is struggling. He has a 20-footer for par on the 9th after having bunker trouble and he leaves it short. The 2002 Champion needs to stop the bleeding, he’s now on three over.
His playing partners Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler have no such trouble. The Holywood, Co. Down man makes a comfortable par while the Californian Fowler birdies to move to two under.
11:40 – 11.40 – Here’s another update on the state of play. As you can see, Thomas Bjorn is looking strong. He is on course for a 64 which would represent his lowest round ever in the British Open.
11:46 – 11.46 – As Luke Donald taps in for another par, Peter Alliss reassures us that you don’t have to be a “crash-bang-wollop merchant,” to succeed at the Open. I think he means that being a big hitter isn’t necessarily a huge advantage. Certainly the priority has been on the short game and approach shots from what we’ve seen.
11:49 – 11.49 – Thomas Bjorn is now trending on twitter worldwide. That esteemed position is also held by Jerome Boateng, Neil Wallis, Purple Rain, Tourmalet and Congrats Justin. On the trending in Ireland list, we’re still stuck with Mick Wallace, Moodys and Junk.
11:53 – 11.53 – The rain has arrived. It’s not too heavy yet, some don’t even have the umbrellas up, but it’s enough to speckle the cameras and obscure our view through the television screen.
On that point, the forecast for the tournament does not make for pleasant viewing. “Heavy rain” is expected for Saturday, while the meteorologists believe Sunday will bring “thundery showers”.
Could we be looking at a Monday finish?
12:01 – 12.01 – There’s an large, intimidating hill up to the 10th green. The players can only see the top of the flag so judging the distance is particularly difficult. Nevertheless, Luke Donald plays it perfectly and leaves it stone dead. It’ll be a tap-in birdie for the world number one.
The umbrellas are now very much in use. The rain is coming down pretty hard on certain parts of the course.
Thomas Bjorn misses a putt on the last to make bogey, but he finishes on five under par to set the target for the rest of the field. Will anyone catch him today?
12:04 – 12.04 – David Elkin has emailed us here at firstname.lastname@example.org
Things not really going McIlroy’s way so far. The strong winds don’t suit his high trajectory shots. He’s trying to combat it somewhat, but it’s still his natural game. It’s started lashing rain by the looks of things now as well, which will only add to the problem. How did Bjorn shoot a 64 exactly? I anticipate numerous “Bjorn Again” headlines, considering it was at Sandwich he blew it in 2003.
Just to correct David, Bjorn did in fact finish with a 65 (he bogeyed the last), but the comment about Rory’s high trajectory shots is certainly worth noting.
12:09 – 12.09 – For any of you interested in some of the backmarkers, there are a few high-profile names propping up the leaderboard. 2004 champion Todd Hamilton has finished with a seven-over pat 77 while Nick Watney, Alvaro Quiros and Hunter Mahan are all together on five over.
12:17 – 12.17 – Rory McIlroy has begun to steady the ship. He may not be making birdies, but he’s beginning to find some consistency. His second shot to the 12th finished about 15 feet away and he’ll have chance to get back to par for the day.
Miguel Angel Jimenez is still going strong. He saves par from six feet on 15 and is just two off the lead with three holes of his round remaining.
12:22 – 12.22 – Luke Donald has dropped a shot on his 11th to move back to par. He had found the greenside bunker and pitched it out to about 8 feet, but couldn’t save his par.
McIlroy’s birdie chance, which at a second glance was probably more 20 feet than 15, shaves the edge of the hole but will be a tap-in par.
With the weather taking a turn for the worst, it looks like the early starters may have had the best of the day. The words of Peter Alliss, “defend, defend, defend”, are certainly beginning to take on more of a meaning for the likes of Jimenez and Cink who have had good starts.
12:30 – 12.30 – Sergio Garcia, who has found some form over the last few weeks, has just played a peach of an approach into the 12th. His weakness in recent years has been his putting, but he won’t need to call on those reserves here, he has a tap-in to move to one under for the tournament.
Rory McIlroy found rough on the 13th but has played out safely just to the front of the green. The second shot was bang on line with the pin and he liked it in the air, but the distance got him.
12:34 – 12.34 – The wind speed is hovering around the 20mph mark.
If you remember back to last year’s Open, play was suspended on day two with the wind gusting up to 40mph. We’re a long way off that at the moment, but something to bear in mind and keep in context.
12:40 – 12.40 – Rory McIlroy is showing signs of a little frustration. His pitch into the 13th digs in and ends up about eight feet short. He swings his wedge vigorously afterwards as if to show he didn’t hit it hard enough. The putt won’t help his emotions either. It’s bang on line but just short. One more revolution of the ball and the par would have been saved. He’ll have to make do with bogey and moves back to two over par.
12:46 – 12.46 – Sergio Garcia has just hit two of his Sunday best into the 13th and is one of the few men who look like threatening a birdie. He’s about 12 feet away with a chance to move to two under.
The marquee group of Els, McIlroy and Fowler tee off on the par-5 14th and have all found the fairway. No eagles have been made on the hole yet today, but you wouldn’t put it past one of these three.
Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Jimenez has holed a sliding 6 footer for birdie on 17 to move to four under.
12:50 – 12.50 – Sergio Garcia converts for his birdie and is now very much in contention on two under.
His playing partner Luke Donald is about the same distance away for par. He addresses the ball but is distracted and has to step away twice. When he eventually does hit it, it’s no surprise to see him miss and he is now one over. That’s two bogeys in three holes from the Englishman. How quickly things can turn…
12:57 – 12.57 – Have a guess what player is doing Happy Gilmores on the practice range? Yes, it’s none other than Padraig Harrington. He has won two British Opens, so who are we to question his methods. He is also wearing a Michael Healy-Rae-esque cap.
13:00 – 13.00 – Hole in one: We’ve had our first ace of the tournament and it’s come from Dustin Johnson. He was four over par on the 14th tee box and has now gone birdie, birdie, hole-in-one to get back to level par.
The BBC’s Ken Brown described it as a “slinging hook” but somehow I don’t think that’s how Johnson will be telling the story it in the clubhouse.
13:04 – 13.04 – Miguel Angel Jimenez has finished with a flourish. Well, a birdie to be specific. The Spaniard hit a lovely approach into the final hole and converted from close range to move to four under, just one behind Thomas Bjorn.
For all the talk of young guns like McIlroy and Fowler, it’s the older heads of Bjorn and Jimenez who are showing the way so far.
13:06 – 13.06 – Sergio Garcia has just has an outrageous bit of luck. His second shot on the 14th was careering towards the grandstand on the left hand side, but hit a stanchion and kicked back into the middle of the fairway just in front of the green.
It’s a par five, so he should have a good birdie chance.
13:15 – 13.15 – It’s around lunchtime for most of you following, so here’s another look at the leaderboard before you grab your nourishment. Be back quick though, Padraig Harrington is on the tee in five minutes and Graeme McDowell is only 15 minutes behind him.
13:17 – 13.17 – We’ve had a weather update from @The_Open_Champ on twitter.
Wind should stay about the same for most of the afternoon, 10-15mph with gusts up to 25mph. Should die down a little as the evening goes on.
13:24 – 13.24 – Here’s one for you. Various players are being interviewed by the BBC on the practice range as they warm up for their tee times. Graeme McDowell was up a few minutes ago and Justin Rose has just had his turn. The essence of what they’re saying is that thay have prepared well, they’re feeling good and they’re ready to go. Has anyone ever heard a player say otherwise? Why does nobody ever come out and say “I’ve been hitting it terribly in practice and I’ll be doing well to break 80″? Because it’s bound to be true sometimes, they all can’t be hitting it well all of the time. Or can they?
13:29 – 13.29 – Afternoon all, Niall here. We could hear Neil’s tummy rumbling across the other side of the office so we shipped him off for a spot of lunch. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I’ve stepped into the fray to keep you updated for the next little while.
Neil’s parting words to me? “Don’t mess up.”
13:35 – 13.35 – Ian Poulter – who, I should add, is not wearing anything remotely outrageous today – has just finished off his opening round, carding a solid 69 to head into the clubhouse on one-under. That’s not a bad start from the 2008 runner-up.
A bogey at 15 sends Luke Donald back to two-over while playing partner Sergio saves par with a testing ten-foot breaker. Sergio playing well today will only make the inevitable collapse all the more unbearable, trust me.
13:40 – 13.40 – McIlroy’s approach to the par four 17th is a beaut, pitching up on the back of the green before spinning back to about 12 feet. He’ll have that one for a birdie and a chance to move to one-over. He’s not breaking any records today, but he’ll have to happy with how he’s plotted his way around in these testing conditions.
The Beeb’s Mark Pougatch has caught up with world number two Lee Westwood as he gets ready to tee off in a half-hours time. Within the first three seconds of Westwood opening his mouth, he manages to jam the phrases “playing well,” “practice is going well,” and “hitting the ball well” into a sentence. Looks like Neil was spot on (see 13:24).
13:44 – 13.44 – Rors nails that birdie putt on 17, so he moves to one-over with one to play.
Speaking after his opening round of 65, a tearful Thomas Bjorn has been paying tribute to his late father who passed away in May.
He meant a lot to me. He would have been very proud of what I did today. That’s all I’ve got to say.
13:53 – 13.53 – David Elkin has been back in touch again, with this to say about the media asking Bjorn to comment on his father’s death:
I found that Thomas Bjorn question a bit too much. Journalists and presenters bring up recently passed relatives all the time to get an emotional reaction. Hazel Irvine did it to John Higgins after the World Snooker final. Basically, she kept subtly referring to his recently passed father, and when she didn’t get a reaction, came straight out and mentioned it. I’d question the merits of doing so. Obviously it makes for “great TV” but is that really a good enough reason?
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14:00 – 14.00 – Rors gets a nice ovation from the gallery as he makes his way towards the 18th green. He has a decent opportunity to make a second successive birdie but his putt slides just by the hole on the low side. He taps in the putt back to finish the day on 71, and don’t think he’ll have too many complaints about that.
His playing partners won’t be too unhappy either, Fowler finishing on level par 70 while Els saves par to finish up on 72.
It’s my turn to sneak off for a sandwich. Neil is back in the hotseat presently. Enjoy the afternoon’s action.
14:08 – 14.08 – Just as I sit back in the hot seat, I see Graeme McDowell open up with a double-bogey. I’m not going to lie, that isn’t what I wanted to see.
Anders Hansen has made a move in my absence to get to two under. He also makes two Danes in the top four.
I wonder will we see a Frenchman threatening the lead? It is Bastille Day after all. At the moment, Gregory Bourdy is the best placed of Les Bleus on level par for the day.
14:12 – 14.12 – Ricky Barnes has just been given a golden ticket. When he woke up this morning, he wasn’t part of the 156-man field, but Nicolas Colsaerts has had to withdraw due to injury and Barnes was the first alternate.
Colsaerts hired a scooter on his arrived in Sandwich, but went over a curb and fell on his elbow. He was giving himself as much time as possible to recover, but it was not to be and he has withdrawn.
14:15 – 14.15 – Lee Westwood, many people’s tip to win the tournament, is on the course and he’s on the fairway on the first.
14:20 – 14.20 – Rory McIlroy has just given his post-round interview to the BBC and is “happy with the way [he] started”. He admitted that he didn’t play his best, but feels that the harder the course, the better for him.
“I feel very fresh, I’m hitting the ball as good as I have done,” said the Ulsterman, who believes it’s a matter of grinding away and making pars for the moment.
14:24 – 14.24 – Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia have just finished off their rounds. Donald closed with a par to finish on one over. Garcia spent some time in the rough on his way to the hole and ended up with a bogey to finish on level par.
14:27 – 14.27 – We brought you news of Dustin Johnson’s hole in one earlier. Enjoy it here for yourselves.
14:30 – 14.30 – The marquee group of the afternoon has just teed off. The three in question are defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.
Kaymer is the only man to find the fairway or the green. Mickelson and Oosthuizen have difficult up-and-downs to save par.
14:33 – 14.33 – Jason Day was the runner up in the last two Majors. He was fancied by many to have another good week this week and has just made a birdie to get back to level par after three holes.
There is a lot of movement on the leaderboard now, with players bouncing in and around par. As of yet, nobody from the afternoon starters has made a run at the lead.
14:38 – 14.38 – Peter Whiteford is far from a household name but he birdies his eleventh hole to move to two under.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, bogeys his first hole. His playing partners, Oosthuizen and Kaymer, both par.
14:44 – 14.44 – The colourful Ian Poulter, runner up to Padraig Harrington in 2009, has spoken to the BBC.
“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t take the chances I gave myself over the first 12 holes”
He’s tied for fourth on one under, so he shouldn’t be too tough on himself. If the putts start dropping for him, he’ll certainly be in the mix on Sunday.
14:52 – 14.52 – Louis Oosthuizen has made a solid start with two pars. His playing partner Martin Kaymer has a good chance to move to one under, but it drifts just right of the hole.
Steve Stricker, last week’s winner in America, make it three pars in a row to start.
14:59 – 14.59 – Of all the players on the course at the moment, only five are beating par. Chad Campbell is the best of those on two under.
15:03 – 15.03 – Rory McIlroy has been the centre of attention in the build-up to this week’s Open Championship.
As the tournament goes on, it’ll be interesting to monitor to what extent the BBC call McIlroy British or otherwise. With that in mind, our expert software technicians have developed a fool-proof chart to monitor “How British Is Rory McIlroy?”
15:08 – 15.08 – Martin Kaymer is playing excellent golf. He has had three pars in three holes, but they’ve been good pars. He has driven the ball straight and made solid approach shots – nothing too aggressive but enough to give himself at least a chance of birdie. He hasn’t converted as of yet, but if he keeps driving the ball as he has done, he’ll be setting himself up for a good score.
My tip for the week, Henrik Stenson, is off to a flyer. Well, he parred the first.
15:13 – 15.13 – Graeme McDowell is scrambling a bit. He’s had two pars since his opening double-bogey, but the latest was a bit of a struggle. He needed a top quality pitch and a clutch putt to save his par.
15:16 – 15.16 – Tom Watson has just got the biggest roar of the day. He had a 30-footer on the third to go one-under and put it straight in the middle. He pulled on heart strings two years ago when he finished runner-up to Stewart Cink. Could he do it again this year?
15:20 – 15.20 – There are a host of players on one under par now, many of whom are in the early stages of their rounds. Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Robert Allenby are well known, Richard McEvoy, Peter Whiteford and Tom Lewis less so, but they’re all joined by their one-under score.
15:29 – 15.29 – Graeme McDowell is now off the mark with a birdie on the par-three sixth.
The group of Westwood, Stricker and Schwartzel is playing the fifth hole, but from the camera angle you can’t see the green. In fact, all the viewer can see is the sky and it looks as if the players are hitting their shots into oblivion. I can assure you, however, this is not the case. Stricker and Westwood are just to the left of the green while Schwartzel is on the green.
15:36 – 15.36 – Lee Westwood has made a bit of a mess of that, and indeed a mess of the last three holes. He pitched up to about 20 feet and missed the par putt to make it three bogeys in a row.
Steve Stricker rolled in a six footer for par, while Schwartzel also tapped in to save.
15:42 – 15.42 – Bubba Watson had a great chance there but he let it slide. He was on the green in two on the par-five seventh, lagged his eagle putt to about six feet, but missed a golden birdie opportunity. Those are the kind of chances you really need to convert.
His playing partner Graeme McDowell is getting back on track very fast. He’s had another birdie to get back to one over after a double-bogey start.
15:45 – 15.45 – Darren Clarke is also going along nicely. He played the front nine in level par and has just birdied the tenth to get into a share of fifth on one under.
There are now 23 players tied on one under.
15:47 – 15.47 – It’s not Lee Westwood’s day. Having bogeyed three in a row, he had a golden chance to get one back with a short birdie putt on the sixth, but it slid away to the right of the hole. That could really have been a momentum changer, but he has the par-five seventh up next so maybe that’ll get him going.
15:55 – 15.55 – Justin Leonard won the Open way back in 1997. He’s just moved to two under and he’s only played two holes. Kyle Stanley and Chad Campbell are also on that number and are still out on the course.
The chasing pack are edging ever closer to Thomas Bjorn’s five under. They’re getting there slowly but surely.
15:57 – 15.57 – Tiger Woods may not be playing at the Open, but that hasn’t stopped his caddie getting in on the action. Steve Williams is on Adam Scott’s bag for the week. There’s no talk of that becoming a permanent fixture, but I’m sure Scott will be hoping some of Steve’s record in Majors rubs off on him.
15:59 – 15.59 – Justin Leonard is now three from three. Birdie, Birdie, Birdie.
How many can he make in a row?
16:05 – 16.05 – Almost all the groups are now out on the course. There only one remaining and that trio tees on in just under 10 minutes. The scoring has been good, without being exceptional, but I guess for day one that’s to be expected. There’s a lot to be said for going slow and steady and keeping yourself in the mix.
16:10 – 16.10 – Graeme McDowell is mixing the sublime with the ridiculous. Having made back-to-back birdies on six and seven, he bogeyed the eighth, but has now put himself in position A on the ninth. He is still hovering over par, but if he can pull things together a little on the back nine he could get himself right in amongst them.
16:18 – 16.18 – After a bogey on the opening hole, Mickelson has birdied the par-five seventh after leaving his eagle putt about a foot short. He moves back to level par which is a perfectly adequate start to the round.
G-Mac pulled his birdie putt at nine ever so slightly to the left of the hole. He heads to the tenth tee box on two-over par, surely wondering what might have been.
16:25 – 16.25 – Justin Leonard’s sensational run of birdies has come to an unfortunate end on the fourth green. He takes a five to drop back to -2.
Kyle Stanley very nearly has our second hole-in-one of the day, stitching his tee shot to about a foot on 16. That would’ve been tasty.
16:31 – 16.31 – What a drive from Bubba Watson. He’s hit it 390 yards, wind-aided of course. His ball was exactly 17 yards short of the green and he decided to us his putter to bump it up the hill at the front of the tenth. He didn’t give it enough juice though and now has a sizeable putt for birdie.
On the tenth hole, Graeme McDowell hits his birdie putt just a fraction too hard and will have to settle for par.
16:36 – 16.36 – I wrote earlier that the pack are chasing slowly but surely, and there are now five players on two under, while Kyle Stanley has move to three under. The group is whittling down as they move up the leaderboard, but the key is that they are catching Bjorn. Even if they don’t catch him today, they’ll be licking their lips at the prospect of doing so tomorrow.
16:40 – 16.40 – It hasn’t been a happy round of golf for Lee Westwood. Just as we thought he was beginning to find some momentum he has another bogey. At the half-way stage, he’s three over par.
16:43 – 16.43 – The young amateur by the name of Tom Lewis has just got himself to three under par. “Who is Tom Lewis?” I hear you ask. Why not read James Corrigan’s interview with him in yesterday’s Independent.
16:50 – 16.50 – Wayne Grady has just informed BBC viewers that it’s coming up to 2 o’clock in the morning in Australia. If you’re following us from down under, fair play to you. Incidentally, the highest place Australian at the moment is Richard Green. He’s one under par with two to play.
16:53 – 16.53 – Peter Alliss is predicting that the late starters are going to have the best of the weather. The rain is certainly long gone and the wind does seem to be dying down ever so slightly.
Darren Clarke moves to two under with a birdie on the 14th.
16:57 – 16.57 – Finally a glimmer of hope for Lee Westwood. He has a birdie on the 10th to get to two over. If he was to grind out a good back nine he’d be right back in the mix.
17:16 – 17.16 – Kyle Stanley has book-ended his round with bogeys. Two under par is a very good score, but he’ll be disappointed to have finished with a dropped shot. Nevertheless, he’ll be well placed going into tomorrow’s second round.
17:20 – 17.20 – Fredrik Andersson Hed is not the most high profile of the Swede’s, but he’s just had this third birdie of the day to move to three under. He’s only played nine holes as well, so he’s definitely a man to keep an eye on over the back nine.
G-Mac has also had a birdie and has now ground his way back to par. Good shooting from the Northern Irishman after the double-bogey start.
17:24 – 17.24 – Martin Kaymer has taken his jumper off and got himself under par with a birdie on the 11th. Ominous signs from Kaymer. He hasn’t been on fire, but he’s continued on from his solid start and is playing good golf.
By the way, for anyone who took up our tip and went with Henrik Stenson, he’s one over after nine holes. Exactly where we want him to be, right?
17:30 – 17.30 – Today’s last-minute call-up Ricky Barnes has shot a front nine of two under par. Amazing stuff from a man who wasn’t even sure he was playing a couple of hours before his tee-time. He has lead a Major before as well. At Bethpage at the 2009 US open, he lead going into the final round, only to lose out to Lucas Glover.
17:41 – 17.41 – The wind has dropped to below nine miles per hour. Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of these conditions is missing an opportunity. It won’t get much more benign really, so it’s time for someone to go on a birdie run.
Just as I type, Bubba Watson rolls one in for a four at the par-five 14th. If there was ever a man to go on a birdie run…
17:43 – 17.43 – Nothing is happening for Lee Westood. He has an horrendous lip-out for birdie at the 13th and stays three over par. At what point do you start thinking about the half-way cut? If he doesn’t get something going soon, it’ll certainly be in his mind tomorrow.
17:48 – 17.48 – Every time Phil Mickelson comes on the screen he’s either in the rough or missing a putt. He’s one over, so he can’t be going that badly, but he does seem to be just surviving as opposed to playing good, attacking golf.
17:49 – 17.49 – Mickelson is one over par by the way.
17:53 – 17.53 – BBC commentator Andrew Cotter reckons two over par is just about hanging on at the moment. He adds that the players who are out late today are out early tomorrow and vice-versa, so in theory, those who played in difficult conditions should get better conditions tomorrow. That’s if the weather is the same, of course.
17:59 – 17.59 – For those of you who didn’t see Dustin Johnson’s hole-in-one earlier, it has sneaked into our weekly youtube chart. There are some gems in there, so I strongly recommend you check it out.
18:05 – 18.05 – Have you ever considered anyone a friend without even meeting them? Well I feel like I’ve made a new friend today. This is David Elkin’s third email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re very grateful for them.
I did think that G-Mac would be up there come the weekend, and he is fighting back well. He needs to take advantage of the benign conditions over the last few holes to convince me. Playing a little erratically today, but we’ll see. Tomorrow is set for the nicest weather of the weekend (as I think the BBC weather man said earlier – although I won’t be trusting him) so it should make for an important day for scoring.
Darren Clarke is playing so consistently. Nearly every hole he has a makeable birdie putt. Obviously I don’t fancy him to win it, but a good showing today. This afternoon has shown how good Bjorns round was that nobody has got near it in better conditions than he had. Tomorrow will be an interesting day…
I do, however, wonder about the logic of a man who says “Nearly every hole he has a makeable birdie putt. Obviously I don’t fancy him to win it.”
18:12 – 18.12 – Graeme McDowell has ended up putting together a very solid round of golf. It didn’t look great for him early on, but with two holes to play he’s on level par and has actually given himself quite a few birdie chances.
Lucas Glover has come in under the radar completely to finish on four under. He wasn’t really featuring on the leaderboard, but three birdies in the last three holes has changed that very quickly. The 2009 US Open Champion has been playing good golf this season and enjoys playing links golf.
18:16 – 18.16 – Phil Mickelson is not out of it by any means. He birdies the 14th to get himself back to level par. He really does have an uncanny ability to put a good score together even when he’s not playing that well.
18:18 – 18.18 – Padraig Harrington appears on our screens for the first time, complete with Michael Healy-Rae-esque hat. Not much else to report though, he’s three over for the day playing the last hole.
18:20 – 18.20 – Peter Alliss has just called one of the scoreboard volunteers a “tinker”. A little uncalled for if you ask me, she seemed to be just having a bit of fun. I can’t imagine she’ll be too pleased with that.
18:28 – 18.28 – Graeme McDowell gets to one under and gives it a fist-pump to boot. This is a brilliant round from McDowell. He has one hole left to play.
18:30 – 18.30 – Frederik Andersson Hed has put one out of bounds and is staring down the barrel of a bogey, at best. He was at two under, so that’s a blow for him.
18:34 – 18.34 – Darren Clarke, by the way, for those of you wondering, finished on two under par. That’s tied for fourth at this moment in time with a host of other players.
18:37 – 18.37 – Adam Scott, with Tiger Woods’ caddie on the bag, finishes with a birdie on the 18th and a round of one under par. Good shooting from the Australian. He’s been using the broom-handle putter this season and it’s been working well for him. A runner-up finish at the US Masters this year was his best ever finish in a Major.
18:44 – 18.44 – The sun is beginning to settle over Royal St. George’s and the main groups are coming towards the end of their rounds. Graeme McDowell is finishing the way everybody else will be dreaming about. Having birdied 17, he put his approach on 18 to about four feet and slotted home the putt to come home in 4 under for the back nine, two under overall. Of all the afternoon players, he’s been arguably the most impressive. A little loose over the opening few holes, he’s had a flawless back nine.
18:47 – 18.47 – Interesting stat from Infostrada Sports on Twitter. 13 of the last 19 Open winners have been in the top 10 after the opening round. That’s good news for anyone on two under or better.
18:52 – 18.52 – Lee Westwood, despite the fact that nothing has gone his way today, has actually recovered pretty well. He’s now only one over par. Back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 have brought him back into things, although he’ll probably still need to go low tomorrow.
Tom Lewis, the young amateur, has now had three birdies in a row and sits at four under. He looks like he should be playing junior golf, but he’s proved himself more than capable of mixing it with the big boys.
18:54 – 18.54 – The consensus seems to be that the wind is now completely dead and that those remaining on the course have a free pass to attack everything. You don’t get many chances to attack in a Major, this could well be one of them.
19:05 – 19.05 – We have a tied at the top of the leaderboard. The man who has joined Thomas Bjorn on five under is Tom Lewis. Who’d have thought? In fairness, the guy has struck the ball very well all day and has made the putts he needed. A dream day for the 20-year-old amateur, that’s four birdies in a row.
19:08 – 19.08 – Westwood (71), Stricker (69) and Schwartzel (71) finish off their rounds. Not the best day at the office by any means, but they’re certainly not out of it.
19:16 – 19.16 – A smile for Phil Mickelson who finishes on level par. His playing partner Martin Kaymer taps in for a par to finish on two under. The third member of that group is defending champion Louis Oosthuizen who’s on two over.
19:25 – 19.25 – The two Toms, Watson and Lewis, make the walk down the 18th fairway along with their playing partner Henrik Stenson. There are a few groups left out on the course, but as the main story of the day Tom Lewis draws to a close, so the end of our liveblog coverage is nigh.
All three in this group have left themselves with tough five or six-footers for par.
Watson is first to go and makes it. He finishes on two over.
The young leader Tom Lewis shows he has nerves of steel and ties Thomas Bjorn at five under.
Henrik Stenson casually taps in and finishes the day on one over.
19:28 – 19.28 – That’s it from us folks. Thanks very much for joining us today and for all your correspondence. We’ll be back again tomorrow, same time same place, and if any other stories emerge overnight we’ll be sure to update you.
Thomas Bjorn and Tom Lewis lead, but there’s a stack of players waiting to pounce. We’ll be following their every move, so be sure to join us for that.