St. Andrews always plays fast and firm, but this week it more resembles a race track. Drives that are hit down the fairway are running forever. And ever. Kind of like this.
Well, unless you hit a big stone in the middle of a fairway.
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Such was the case for Rory McIlroy during Thursday’s first round when he ripped driver down the middle on the par-5 fifth hole. But as his golf ball started bounding down the browned-out turf, it ricocheted off a stone marker, causing it to come to a quick stop. Check out the bad break—and the astonished reaction from Nick Faldo:
What are the odds on that? Not good! And not the kind of omen you want if you’re a guy who hasn’t won a major in eight years.
And what is a gravestone doing in the middle of a fairway? Turns out, there are several stone markers that are actually the oldest part of the Old Course. Originally part of a boundary wall, when the course was expanded in 1821, they were now in the middle of the fairway and a few were kept as directional markers. The more you know. Not that that would make McIlroy feel any better about being deprived of hitting an absolute bomb.
That being said, if you’re going to get a bad break, it’s a lot better that you don’t see it happen. Also, it’s not like McIlroy’s drive didn’t go anywhere. According to the Open’s shot tracker, it still went 307 yards, longer than playing partners Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.
And although McIlroy missed the green with his second shot, he got up and down for birdie. And then he made two more birdies the next two holes to climb the leaderboard on Day 1. If this turns out to be the worst break the pre-tournament favorite gets on this quirky course during the event, well, maybe it’s going to be his week after all.
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