The morning play at The 147th Open provided an interesting insight into the mindset of the players.
In the build-up to the Championship many talked about the two approaches that could be taken on such a hard, fast running course. You could be aggressive, by taking driver off the tee, or cautious, by playing for position with fairway woods or irons.
The afternoon starters will have taken a keen interest in what was unfolding on the course before they set off to play. If they were in two minds as to how to approach the challenge, then American Kevin Kisner will have shown them the way.
Kisner, who is sharing accommodation with Major winners Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Jason Dufner, set the clubhouse lead with a five-under-par round of 66 that was made up of four birdies, one eagle, a bogey and 12 pars.
Interestingly, he chose to use the driver just four times off the tee and gave a masterclass in course management. “If I can keep the ball in the fairway, I feel I can control my golf ball around the green,” he explained.
Kisner’s game plan worked to perfection. And with just 22 putts in the round, he was able to set a clubhouse lead that, with the wind increasing in strength, may still be leading at the end of the day.
Lying in second place was Eric Van Rooyen, of South Africa, on four under par, with countryman Brandon Stone a shot further back.
Among those unable to resist hitting the driver at every opportunity was Spain’s Jon Rahm, who drove the green at the 3rd, and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who tried to the same tactic but came a cropper, eventually walking off with a double bogey.
Sandy Lyle, playing in his 42nd consecutive Open, had a 75 and then suggested that someone would have a 64 or a 63 by the end of the day.
“The course is there for the taking,” he said. Such are the hidden dangers and wiles of Carnoustie, however, that this seemed less and less likely as the day progressed, with no sign that any of the players would burn up the course.