2023 Open Championship: 5 things you missed Thursday morning
HOYLAKE, England — Wake up, folks! There’s golf on the telly.
The 151st Open is off and running here on the western coast of England. The first group off has already finished its round and with plenty of excitement along the way. Here are five things you missed from Thursday morning.
1. Scottie Scheffler won’t stop
Much has been made (and perhaps still not enough!) of Scottie Scheffler’s incredible season to date, with his Tiger Woods-esque statistics and streak of 19 straight top-12 finishes. But how will we think of this year if he cannot win himself a major championship? We’re going to find out this week.
Scheffler got off to a solid start at Royal Liverpool after birdieing two of his first four holes and turned in one under. If he were to win this week, it’d be his second career major, his third win of the year, and the token he needs to make this campaign for one of the best seasons of modern professional golf history.
2. Entertaining amateur out front
It’s been a good summer for Christo Lamprecht. The 22-year-old South African won the British Amateur Championship just a few weeks ago up the coast at Southport and Ainsdale, earning him a spot in this week’s field. He’s wasting no time using that opportunity.
The 6-foot-8 launcher birdied the last to shoot five-under 66 and sat alone atop the leaderboard when he finished around 12:30 p.m. local. An amateur leading The Open? Could it last? They never seem to last forever. Though we all remember Paul Dunne teeing off with the 54-hole lead at the 2015 Open at St. Andrews.
If Lamprecht can hang around in a Dunne-like fashion throughout the weekend, there will be no shortage of commentary on the athletic movement of his swing:
3. ‘Little Eye’ claims its first victim
There’s a new hole at Royal Liverpool this week, haven’t you heard? It’s the cute par-3 17th, nicknamed “Little Eye” for the tiny island located off in the distance. The hole itself is a bit controversial, in part because people tend to dislike change, and also because the bunkering surrounding it can make life hellish on members. But apparently it can be hellish for pros, too.
Lucas Herbert was leading the championship at three under through 16 holes Thursday when he pulled his tee shot left of the 17th green. It’s unclear just how tricky his lie was from there, but Herbert played his second shot a bit too firm, rolling it past the hole and into a cavernous greenside bunker. From there he was short sided and begging for a double bogey. He wouldn’t get it.
Herbert’s third shot wasn’t good enough to escape the surrounds of the trap and he found himself back in the sand, from which he splashed onto the green and two-putted for a triple-bogey 6. Lead gone.
4. Local favorite stirring things up
There may be a lot of support for Rory McIlroy at the outset of this tournament, but don’t get it confused. No player in the field has more avid support than Matthew Jordan.
Jordan plays the majority of his golf on the DP World Tour, but when he isn’t out on the traveling professional circuit, he’s often playing his golf at Royal Liverpool, where he is a member. (When I flew over from America in mid-June and arrived at RLGC, he was one of the first people I saw.) Just a few weeks ago, he carded a 62 from the membership’s championship tees.
Jordan had the honor of playing the first shot of this championship at 6:45 a.m. Thursday, in front of an eager crowd. He pulled his tee ball into the rough, then pulled his approach into a greenside bunker. But then he gave the crowd something to cheer about, holing a 14-footer for an opening par. Jordan made four birdies to finish off a two-under 69 to sit near the top of the leaderboard.
5. LIV’in good
It’s possible this will be the final major of the era that separated LIV Golf from the PGA Tour. Who knows! What we do know is that multiple LIV-ers have started out solid in Hoylake. Thomas Pieters led the field for just an instant at four under, after making an eagle on the par-5 15th. He promptly made a nullifying double bogey on the next hole, but he’s sitting in solid position here after a one-under 70. Patrick Reed also shot 70. An under-par start is going to be just what everyone in the field is looking for in breezy conditions Thursday.