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Welcome to a friendlier, softer Royal St. George’s at The Open … but will it stay that way?

SANDWICH, England – The cheerful among us prefer to see white capes on the English Channel, with umbrellas breaking in half, waterproof as the preferred clothing. If the wind wants to cry at a fairly high rate, that would be fine too.

It is Open up again. The kind that showcases – and sometimes exposes – the best golfers in the world. It can be insane and frustrating, but it’s pure entertainment for the golfing public who like to endure the elements at the oldest championship of the game.

Of course, Mother Nature does not always work together. And there are many who were just fine with the rather pleasant day that ensued at Royal St. George’s took place for the opening round of the last major championship of 2021.

There was a good while of sunshine and not a hint of rain. However, there was a lot of wind, but not enough to prevent several players from reaching their track record. If you watch Thursday, it will make you wonder what the fuss is about.

Royal St. George’s, near Sandwich Bay and with a view to France, seldom sparked the passions of link lovers. It’s not high in terms of open spaces, óf. What it lacks in beauty often compensates for it in brown, although it does lack it in relatively favorable conditions during the first round.

“Why are we not crazy about it?” Say England’s Paul Casey, who started the tournament with a 68. “Because it’s so damn hard.”

Casey grew up in Weybridge, Surrey, and remembers matches against County Kent at Royal St. George’s was played when he was an amateur.

The place hit him.

“It was just hard; a hard, hard golf course to play, ‘he said. “It was not nice.”

And yet on Thursday, Louis Oosthuizen 64 shot to take the lead in the first round, only the sixth score of 64 or better in the 15 Opens at Royal St. George’s date to the late 1800s.

Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman is a setback. There were almost 50 players below par. And the average score for the day was just a little higher. It’s unheard of for an Open, especially one at Royal St. George’s, where Tiger Woods hit the highway with its initial shot in 2003, and then saw it bounce in the hull. The ball was never found. He started with a penalty kick with 2 shots and a triple 7.

He finally finishes 2 strokes behind Ben Curtis.

“Slightly out of order, isn’t it?” Casey said of what happened to Woods. ‘I think that’s why setting people up can kill the enjoyment of this golf course. This week’s setup is phenomenally good. ‘

And maybe that’s why the score was pretty good. And maybe why fewer shots were taken on the course.

Brooks Koepka was just being honest when he said earlier in the week that it was not his favorite, because of all the blind shots. Rory McIlroy hated it quite a few years ago when he went to Royal St. Louis as the reigning U.S. Open champion. George’s came and walked away frustrated after a draw for the 25th.

But McIlroy noted that some of the hard edges have since been reduced. Some of the lunar landscape for which the track is known – the hills and bumps in the middle of the highways – is less severe due to summer rains and, perhaps, with the direction of the crew of the Royal St. George via the R&A.

“We are very aware that this track has very serious undulations in the clean fields and in the landing areas,” said R&A CEO Martin Slumbers. landing on it is not kicked off at a pace that can take it deep, deep rough. It’s a little greener out there than you’d see on some other courses, and it’s purposeful. ‘

It is quite rare for those responsible for setting up tournaments to admit that they are concerned about a track that is unfair.

But that’s part of what’s going on this week, and part of why you’re smiling a lot more than frowning.

“I would say if there was just a little bit of softness,” said Spieth, who played the course for the first time in the competition and shot 5 under 65. ‘I got away with a few setbacks in the first track. that if it was firmer, they might have just worked as far as the swing line. I’m sure it’s the same way for a lot of people.

“It’s a track where you have so many undulations in the clearing, that if it gets firmer, it’s very dependent on the bounce. That’s what I heard coming in. Then you can see it after you play it. The wind is up, and the pins are on buttons and crowns and it did … they put some pins in some very nice places for us [Thursday] where you could get to them in some pickups. But these are just a few of the holes. The rest of them are in a more difficult place to separate the field like that. If you hit it really well or not, you end up in better positions opposite. ”

Spieth was aware of the reputation of the course before he got there and tried to keep an open mind.

“Historically, I’ve visited places in any tournament I’ve never seen before, and I’ve always just tried to find something about it,” he said. ‘good mood about it. I thought, ‘Man, this can be a very nice kind, difficult cut.’ This is definitely weird compared to some of the others. ‘

The forecast for the rest of the tournament calls for temperatures in the high 60s and a fairly fast breeze that can push up to 25 km / h. This can cause attacks, as the best in the world are filled with doubt if they are not sure what impact the wind is going to have, especially on links where there is so much strange bounce and breaks.

Continued wind means that the track is likely to get faster and faster, which will give rise to some of the old worries that Royal St. George’s gives a less than a star reputation. Unless the forces naturally break out.

“I think the architecture is absolutely phenomenal,” Casey said. ‘Of the best bunkering and green approaches. The only reason I’m never the top five in the UK is one too many blind knocks. And that’s my personal preference. But that’s a bad excuse not to place it in my top five, is it? But there are several. You tend to lose sight of the golf ball on a regular basis.

‘But the fact that they moved the first highway slightly to the left this year is a good example. Tiger’s tee shot right in the middle [in 2003] rolled to the side and he lost the golf ball. Crazy. I think that’s why essay can destroy people’s enjoyment of this golf course. This week’s setup is really good. ‘

The setup is good. The weather is good. And so far the golf is good.

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