The Reuters global sports blog
It is fair to say we all expected an American with a surname beginning with W to be soaring up the British Open leaderboard but everyone has been shocked that it is 59-year-old senior Tom Watson topping the strong field and not a certain Tiger Woods.
Whilst the world number one toiled in calm conditions at Turnberry’s Ailsa course on Thursday, five-times Open champion Watson was recording a bogey-free five-under-par 65 to take the early clubhouse lead.
“Yesterday and the day before, playing the practice rounds I felt very good about the way I was hitting the ball and the way I was putting the ball,” Watson told reporters. “And it was not much of a surprise for me to go out there and get under par.”
Many will expect the eight-times major winner to fall away and not remain in contention but may I remind you cynics of the performance of another past master, Greg Norman, at last year’s championship at Birkdale. Norman finished third after leading going into the final round.
Tiger Woods and Adam Scott have described it as gimmicky. Phil Mickelson believes it is the midway point in golf’s most exciting finish but former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia says it has the same effect as a nervous wait for a nasty dental appointment.
It is the infamous par-three 17th at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the signature hole on the Stadium Course which will host the Players Championship this week for the 28th time.