While there were scores to be made on day one of The 149th Open, especially in the morning, Royal St George’s bit back in the early going on Friday.
A Thursday morning which saw Louis Oosthuizen post a six-under 64, Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman cards 65s and the likes of Mackenzie Hughes and Stewart Cink record 66s suddenly seemed like a distant memory.
Although Collin Morikawa showed that birdies are possible in round two, with a brilliant four-under front nine from his 8.25am tee time, and the likes of Tony Finau and Johannes Veerman also impressed – they are very much the exception rather than the rule.
Royal St George’s has bared its teeth, despite less blustery conditions than Thursday afternoon, to leave many a player stumped.
STATS SHOW THE CHALLENGE
After the first 19 groups of the day had completed at least one hole, there were just 13 players under par for their round, 14 players at evens and a mammoth 30 players over par.
Whereas 50 birdies had been made, there were 71 bogeys, nine double-bogeys and four worse than that – particularly notable given there were only five scores worse than double-bogey throughout the whole of round one.
Thursday saw the front nine have a scoring average of 35.69, yet the early scoring average on Friday had leapt to 36.33.
With some pin positions tighter, slighter firmer greens and tee boxes altered, the day two course is proving to be the ultimate test.
After that 19-group cut-off point, each of the first seven holes was playing over par, including the par-three 6th – which had provided some sort of solace for the players during the opening round as the second-easiest hole with a scoring average of 2.769.
But while the 6th has stiffened, it’s nothing compared to the par-four 2nd which has caused all sorts of problems on Friday morning.
The first 17 groups of the day had a scoring average of 4.346 at hole 2, with just a solitary birdie, 37 pars, 11 bogeys, one double-bogey and two scores worse than that.
Those players who thought, or perhaps hoped, Royal St George’s had lost some of its bite in round one will find a different beast on day two and as the race to make the cut heats up, they’ll have to be at their best to reach the weekend.