World dangles on South African’s shirt-tails
American Dustin Johnson is back at the top of the golf world as the Official World Number One. He is one of the 156 players looking to put his name on the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s Golf Course, Kent. Yesterday the 149th Open Championship teed off in perfect conditions for the opening round in Sandwich, even the early birds with a 6.35 am start time. Not only was it a glorious start to the day, but due to some Corona restrictions around the world, the field was different this year. And when I say ‘different’ I mean ‘distinctly different’ when compared with 2020. The Open was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions last year.’
So who is leading this year’s Open?
England’s Andy Sullivan shot a 67 to be leader in the clubhouse at 3-under par. But out on the course several other morning players were taking good advantage of the sublime conditions. Americans like left-handed Brian Harman and Jordan Spieth, for example, who were hovering on 4-under par and 3-under par with still a few holes to go. By the way, Spieth shot four birdies in a row.
Another Englishman Danny Willett closed his round with a 67. But it was a Canadian by the name of Mackenzie Hughes at 5-under par after 14 holes who began to steal the show.
“Looks like he’s walking to a gun fight!”
– TV commentator talking about Dustin Johnson’s distinctive walk
The afternoon flights had some catching up to do when it came to scores. Louis Oosthuizen got to 4-under par after another birdie on the back nine which he followed with yet another birdie on the 15th. Spieth shared the lead with Hughes after a birdie on the back nine to get to 65 for the opening round. In the clubhouse at 5-under par with Hughes was pretty good scoring. Brian Harman closed out with 65 too.
Irishman Shane Lowry did not look at ease. Perhaps the tension of defending his title which he won at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019 before the COVID-19 restrictions were introduced had become too much for him. In any case, he closed out with a 1-over par 71.
South African nabs the lead
As the day matured so the weather cooled off and the wind increased. Golf was getting trickier. Even so, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen was creating another blissful round shooting a 6-under par 64 to become leader in the clubhouse by one stroke.
The now 38-year old South African won the Claret Jug on the Old Course at Royal St Andrews in Scotland by an impressive seven strokes in the Open of 2010. Britain’s Lee Westwood was second. How will the next three days pan out for Louis Oosthuizen at Royal St George’s in Kent? Well, we can ensure you that he is very keen to take a big bite out of the Major Championships. Think back to the US Open last month. Oosthuizen took the lead on the first day together with American Russell Henley. He fought a great tournament when he eventually had to settle for second place to Spanish player Jon Rahm. The same happened in the PGA Championship a month earlier. American Phil Mickelson played fiercely to slip another Major success in the bag at the seriously ripe age of nearly 51 – astounding!
Yes, the time is now right for the South African Louis Oosthuizen. Surely he cannot finish runner-up in three successive Majors? I guess we’ll have to wait until Sunday to see. ‘Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen’ as the 2021 Open Champion? Indeed, it sounds rather special.
Enjoy the rest of the week at the Open in Sandwich!
© MAIN PHOTOGRAPH: Louis Oosthuizen leads the 2021 Open by one stroke on day one.