Thomas Pieters, fresh off a 65, felt pretty good about himself. Rough weather was coming, but he was glad to get Carnoustie out of the way.
Pieters opened the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at wicked Carnoustie on Thursday, which meant he’d get Kingsbarns on Friday and St. Andrews’ Old Course on Saturday, which would set the stage for the Old Course again on Sunday.
But back to Thursday. Pieters turned in one of the best scores of the day and, with ugly conditions looming, he was happy to be done with the championship course nicknamed Carnasty.
“Yeah, I don’t want to be beating balls in the wind here tomorrow,” Pieters said Thursday, “so I’ll be fine at Kingsbarns.”
Well, about that…
The rain poured, the wind howled and scores skyrocketed on Friday at the Dunhill. Pieters followed his 65 with an 83. But there’s more. Playing a more gettable Old Course on Saturday, Pieters rebounded with an eight-under 64.
So, to recap: 65-83-64. For those keeping track at home, that’s 18 strokes worse on Day 2, and 19 strokes better on Day 3. He’s tied for 30th at four under, which is 11 off the lead but only seven behind second place. He’s back at St. Andrews for Round 4 on Sunday.
“I’d like to know what the highest score is to ever make a cut still,” Pieters, in an interview with The Scotsman, joked on Saturday. “I didn’t think yesterday was golf. It had nothing to do with golf. But I am obviously playing good as I came back and shot a 64 and I am very happy with that.”
Friday’s high was in the upper 50s, but it rained all day and the wind blew from 25 to 35 mph.
“Truly miserable, to be honest,” is how Tyrrell Hatton summed up the day. “I’m laughing but I’m internally crying, I think.”
“I hit a 4-iron earlier that went 150 yards straight into the wind,” he continued. “I hit it nice and flighted it as well. There’s just things like that that we’re not used to doing on a daily basis. It’s all just try and get a feel for it and hope for the best.”
Pieters was one of several pros who struggled on Friday. He also, based off a tweet, didn’t seem pleased they were playing at all.
“Yesterday, and I’ve done this once every five years now, I threw in the towel after 11 or 12 holes,” Pieters told The Scotsman. “Everything was wet. I couldn’t swing, couldn’t feel my hands. It’s just a lesson for myself. I shouldn’t have. But, at that point, everything was wet. There were literally bubbles coming out of my shoes. It just had nothing to do with golf, in my opinion. I don’t think we should have been playing, but obviously it’s not my decision.”
Pieters and others will chase Richard Mansell on Sunday. He’s shot rounds of 66-68-67 to build a four-stroke lead over Daniel Gavins, Alex Noren and Ryan Fox.