Inside the ropes - Kisner leads the way as early starters shine
From Sandy Lyle’s opening tee shot to Kevin Kisner’s superb 66, the opening morning of The 147th Open was certainly one to remember.
Carnoustie was at its brilliant best, testing players all the way and it was Kisner who mastered it first up - firing a five-under 66 but there were interesting stories all round the course.
Here’s the best of what the players said:
Kisner provided many highlights in his round, including an eagle at the sixth and the American admits that was the kick he needed:
“Absolutely. I was 1-over going into the hole. Hit a great drive and a three iron and holed a long putt, which was kind of the theme of the day.
“It jump-started the round and continued to make birdies and finished it off with really nice pars on the last three.
Pretty much 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/H5pBM2KzI1— The Open (@TheOpen) July 19, 2018
“I think I only hit four drivers all day, maybe five.
“I just want the ball on the fairway because it's not an overly long golf course. Maybe five iron was the longest.
“I hit a hybrid into 12. You're not going to have that many long clubs into the hole. If I can keep it in the fairway, I feel like I can control my golf ball around the green.”
Kisner may have been the best of the morning starters but Sandy Lyle got proceedings underway, hitting the first tee shot.
“I was nervous last night, never mind this morning. I woke up about 1:00 this morning with one eye on the alarm clock thinking.
“Then your mind starts thinking about the opening shot and things. I would say it was playing pretty docile today.
“For a pro, it wasn't too bad hitting a 4 iron off the tee peg with no wind. It was a pretty nice opening tee shot for The Open. It was a pretty nice way to have the opening tee shot for The Open.”
Andy Sullivan played alongside Lyle this morning and admits he was in awe of the 1985 Champion Golfer:
“I obviously missed Sandy in his prime but you can tell he's still got it. 60 years of age, he's fantastic. It was a real pleasure to watch, to be there, to play one of the greats of the game.
“I'm quoting Seve where back in the day when he said if Sandy plays well, we're playing for second. You can tell why.”
South African Erik van Rooyen may have been off early in the second group but he excelled, firing a four-under 67:
“I was a little nervous out there but that’s only natural. I am usually a conservative player anyway and I did not hit a ton of drivers.
-3 after the front 9 & sitting on top of the leaderboard ✅ pic.twitter.com/DxJF8qundW— The Open (@TheOpen) July 19, 2018
“I think that was as easy as the course is going to play all week. There was no wind at all and it will obviously pick up.
“It is really inspiring to be here. You look at the South African guys like Ernie [Els], Louis [Oosthuizen] and Charl [Schwartzel] and they have all won majors. I am trying to follow in their footsteps.”
It was an encouraging start for Englishman Matthew Southgate, who shot a two-under 69 but he is not getting carried away – despite being a member of Carnoustie:
“I think, as a kid, I envisaged winning The Open. I envisaged me standing there with a Claret Jug. Now, being older, I don't.
“I see the professional that's got the ability to shoot four good scores on a really tough golf course, and some of them might just give you the Claret Jug.”
Danny Willet’s confidence is growing after an injury-hit two years and the former Masters champion impressed with a two-under 68:
“It could have been a really, really nice knock, but at the end of the day it wasn't so. But, again, you take the four days and see where it puts you.
“I know the conditions are as simple as what anyone could really ask for out at Carnoustie. Some funky little flags out there, and the wind was flicking around a little bit. For the main part, you're going to see pretty good scoring.”
Phil Mickelson has plenty to ponder after a two-over par 73 and he remains unsure how he will attack the course tomorrow:
“There's always two or threee clubs on each tee, and it comes down to how the wind is going and how it feels the best.
“It really depends on the condition of the course. I don't know what else to say. There's no real set game plan. There's different ways to play every hole.”
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