SANDWICH, England – While red numbers were not uncommon during the opening round of the 149th Open, Royal St. George’s still maintained some big names including U.S. Open Champion Jon Rahm and PGA Champion Phil Mickelson among those struggling .
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The two previous major winners of the season need a shape reversal if they want to create a double in 2021. Mickelson scores a 10 over 80 – his worst start in a major – and Rahm fights for a 1 over 71.
The man the duo both conquered – South African Louis Oosthuizen – has started his quest for a 6-under-64 win in a row. This left those players on the wrong side with an uphill battle as 73 of the 154 players opened the championship at par or better.
Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Shane Lowry were among those who joined Rahm at 1 over, while Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed are 2 over. The youngest PGA TOUR winners Garrick Higgo (73), Patrick Cantlay (74), Marc Leishman (75), Harris English (75) and Lucas Glover (75) also had problems.
Rory McIlroy needed a birdie on the last hole to even hit par 70.
Mickelson’s 80 was his worst round at The Open – which he won in 2013 – since an 85 in the third round of the 1998 tournament. These represent only two of the now 93 rounds in The Open in which the veteran failed to crack 80 .
Five bogeys on the top nine started the pain as the six-time major winner spun 40 and another five dropped shots in his last six holes, including a final double bogey, left him tied last in the 154-man field.
Spaniard Rahm was the pre-tournament favorite after his impressive US Open win at Torrey Pines last month, but lost himself on the ninth hole when he couldn’t escape a fairway bunker on his first try and made a double bogey.
When playing with Oosthuizen, Rahm felt like his wheels were spinning, even though he’d made a lot of pars until a birdie on the final hole made him smile a little.
DeChambeau couldn’t adjust his radar from the tee. He made four birdies on the round, but usually hit the same number of fairways, which meant he was paralyzed by five bogeys.
“The driver sucks. It’s not a good face for me and we’re still trying to figure out how to do well on the miss hits. I live on the edge of the razor, ”DeChambeau complained after the round.
“For me it’s pretty picky because it’s a pretty short golf course and control the green … I couldn’t control my wedges.”