Much like a certain equipment manufacturer’s marketing of its drivers, the Open Championship is shaping up to be SMOKING HOT AMAZING.
Benign breezes and relatively soft playing surfaces led to low scoring on Friday at Royal St. George’s. It was still great fun to watch the world’s best players tackle a genuine links puzzle, but we’d love to see the wind pick up and the turf dry out on the weekend. Fingers crossed.
Here we go again. Louis Oosthuizen is leading through two rounds at a major championship. Through 14 holes on Friday, he was -6 on the day and starting to run away from the field. But then he had a few shaky moments, making his first bogey of the week on the 16th hole. He saved par on No. 17 and steered home to a 65 and the lowest 36-hole total (129) in Open Championship history. Obviously Oosthuizen has been in this spot before. This year alone, he was in the final group on Saturday at the PGA Championship and the penultimate group on Saturday at the U.S. Open. But… can Oosty win?
Fans who braved the early-morning wakeup call were rewarded with a virtuoso performance from Collin Morikawa. The world No. 4 scared flag after flag to give himself easy birdie looks, and he got to -7 with four holes to play before “settling” for a six-under 64. While Morikawa likely won’t keep hitting almost all of his approaches to gimme range, his iron game is the definition of elite and should give him a legitimate shot at winning the Open in his tournament debut.
One back of Morikawa and just three shots off the pace is everyone’s favorite roller coaster of emotions, Jordan Spieth. The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year shot 67 on Friday and could have easily gone a few strokes lower. Either way, he’s in contention on the weekend at a major for the second time in 2021. Ya love to see it.
Just when we thought he might actually fail to be a factor after 36 holes, Brooks Koepka birdied four of his final five on Friday to shoot 66 and get within six shots of the lead. At majors, it seems to be wash, rinse, repeat for Koepka. Equally unsurprising was that he couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Bryson DeChambeau in his post-round interview, saying with a faint smirk, “I love my driver.”
Speaking of Bryson, he apologized late yesterday for disparaging his Cobra driver. But that didn’t stop Justin Thomas—perhaps smelling a few easy PIP points?—from piling on in an Instagram comment section. Thomas (-1) is 10 shots back of Oosthuizen, and DeChambeau (+1) made the cut on the number. So yeah, this is a sideshow.
A host of players—including Dustin Johnson (-7), Jon Rahm (-5), Dylan Frittelli (-7), Scottie Scheffler (-7), Danie van Tonder (-6), and Emiliano Grillo (-6)—are within shouting distance with two rounds to play. Nos. 1 and 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, DJ and Rahm shot 65 and 64, respectively, to get within reach.
A fun storyline to follow this weekend will be the number of contenders who got into the Open field at the last minute. Dylan Frittelli, Danie van Tonder, Marcel Siem, and Andy Sullivan were all added within the past week and stand T-7 or better through 36 holes.
Will Zalatoris withdrew from the Open on Friday morning. He didn’t look quite right after a big lash from the heather on No. 15 on Thursday, and he confirmed that the swing sent a shiver through his body. He was advised not to play Friday to avoid any further damage to his back. Hopefully this turns out to be a short-term injury.
Overall, the leaderboard midway through this Open is not exactly packed with bombers. Hey, maybe the pros should play more links golf!
Whatever club Tyrrell Hatton hit into the 18th hole he will not be hitting it tomorrow.
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