The Open Championship is the unique championship in men's golf. The style of the game, the landscape, the courses, the overnight stay in the States and the history set it apart from the others. There is so much that defines the identity of The Open, and this year's edition of Carnoustie will be particularly distinctive.
David Duval, an Open Champion who has seen some things with this major, said that in his 22 years playing in the championship, he could not recall anything like that. That's because Scotland is in a drought. Carnoustie, the northernmost venue of the Open Rota, has seen almost no rain in the last six weeks. The fairways are crisp brown and run almost as fast as the greens. It looks different, but if you're going to play the story of this championship and how a link, you know that the look is not only different, but also beautiful.
Duval is an authority to talk about the uniqueness of conditions. The comparisons will jump straight into 2006 at the Royal Liverpool, where Tiger won on a back-out course by beating just one driver all week. The strategies this week on the longest course the Open has to offer will vary. And that makes it so interesting and fun to watch the best in the world trying to figure out how to tackle a completely different challenge and play a completely different style.
It may not have the bite of a typical Carnoustie Open, but it'll be hell of a joke to see it. Follow this all night and all day.
1:47 a.m . – Andy Sullivan enters with our first Birdie of the Championship. Sullivan takes no time and puttes a putt directly into the heart of the cup on the first green.
1:53 – We have our first real-life reverse mortgage ad that really pounded home. You see golf in the middle of the night.
2:25 – The course seems to be in this morning wave. While the fairways leak like concrete, the greens are quite soft and receptive. We've seen players stop the ball on a dime and even turn it back 15 or 20 feet. Such fairways have played it shorter, the wind is down and the greens are holding. This seems like a recipe for a low round, especially if it stays that quiet. This is not the Carnoustie of 2007 or 1999.
2:30 pm – Oh my Lyle also has an official Open Golf Shirt on . I'm dying. It's an unchristian hour and I'm crazy, but that's the earliest favorite curiosity at this 147th Open. It's probably his last open, now that he's turned 60 and expires an earlier champion release, but he's leaving his mark.
2:55 am – Thomas Pieters drove the green on the 393 meter long first hole. Pieters is one of the biggest hitters in the world, but that should give you a sense of how hard and fast this layout is playing. You have to thread one and roll almost perfect, but on Thursday there are eagle and birdie chances.
3:10 – Phil Mickelson is really our first big headliner and he's off local time shortly after 8am. Phil should lick his chops and give these conditions. He will have a clean course with not many players trampling the greens, unlike Tiger who plays at the end of the day. Its opening tee was an indicator of how baked up this place is – we get dust clouds instead of divots:
3:50 am – Here's the most dramatic story of the early phase of the first round. Per Todd Lewis on the Gulf Channel broadcast, Jhonattan Vegas is in a race to make its start time. Vegas had a visa issue – he found out that it was over on the day he was supposed to be traveling, and then an express from the British Consulate was lost by a courier. Vegas eventually left Houston and joined through Toronto, but he was separated from his clubs. He lands in Glasgow on Thursday at 8:45 am and then flies to Carnoustie to reach his tee time of 10:31. His equipment company has put together a number of clubs for him when he arrives. Wild story! If he plays well with new clubs, no practice and never sees the course, it will be the round of the day.
4:55 am – update to the previous update: Jhon Vegas actually made it to Carnoustie. Now all he has to do is play with new clubs that have not had practice laps on a course that is a complete departure from the usual PGA Tour setup.
The stale conditions can give some low values here on the first day, where the wind in the early stages is minimal. While the fairways are as solid and fast as they can get, the greens were obviously watered and kept much slower so they would remain playable should some high left-hand winds hit Carnoustie. The greens run at 10 on the meter and play quite receptive. Birdies can be outside all day. Here is your ranking:
Thursday Tee Times
A tradition of The Open is that all 156 players discard Tea # 1 during an endless first two days. The daylight in Scotland at this time of year is about 17 or 18 hours. You can play late into the night, after 10pm. The Open never uses a two-tee start like the other two majors with a full 156 player spaces. You just do not have to and it's an open and left tradition that only starts in 1st place. Only once, and due to poor weather forecasting, have they used a split tea launch in The Open's 147-year history.
The forecast is clean this week, so everyone rolls off number one and the starters let their names be announced, whether that's long before breakfast or dinner. The tea leaf runs from 6:35 am to 4:15 pm. It's an amazing spread, and only at The Open did Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods beat off a whopping seven hours. Here are some of your tent groups and times for the first round (all times ET):
03:03: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello
4:58 pm: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat [5:59pm:JonRahmRickieFowlerChrisWood
5:20 pm: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed
7:31 pm: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker
7 : 53: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen
8:04 AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman
8:26: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace [196590289:48h:PadraigHarringtonBubbaWatsonMattWallace 9:59 am: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka
10:10 am: Sergio Garcia, Bryson De Chambeau, Shubhankar Sharma
10:21 pm: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox
Media Release Thursday
Another new tradition of The Open is the wall-to-wall clock. Since Golf Channel and NBC have acquired the rights to this major, they have sent a 14.5-hour monster broadcast in the first two rounds. They go live for the very first tee at 1:30 in the morning in the eastern USA and then run it all night and all day. It's an amazing, violent broadcast that is now in its third year.
In addition to TV coverage, if you're stuck at work and want to watch from your desk, there's also the usual range of streaming offerings. Tiger Woods will be in the tent groups on Thursday during the working day in the US. This stream is also free and does not require login via cable account. Here are your Thursday media options for the British Open:
01:30 to 16:00. – Golf Channel
1.30am to 4pm – Simulcast Stream of the Gulf Channel
1.30am to 4pm – "Spotlight" Area
4pm to 3pm – 3 hole Stream with focus on # 8-10
Marquee Group Stream
- 5:09 – Rickie Fowler / Jon Rahm / Chris Wood
- 10:21 – Tiger Woods / Hideki Matsuyama / Russell Knox  Radio:
2 pm to 3 pm – Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio (Ch. 92/208)