Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas among big names bitten by Royal St. George’s
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Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet
SANDWICH, England – While red numbers weren’t rare during the opening round at The 149th Open, Royal St. George’s still claimed some big names with U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm and PGA Champion Phil Mickelson among those to struggle.
The season’s previous two major winners will need a form turnaround if they are to make it a double in 2021, with Mickelson shooting a 10-over 80 – his worst ever start to a major – and Rahm battling to a 1-over 71.
The man the duo both conquered – South African Louis Oosthuizen – has started his quest to better his back-to-back major runner-ups with a 6-under 64. It left those players on the wrong side of par with an uphill battle as 73 of the 154 players opened the championship at par or better.
Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Shane Lowry were among those joining Rahm at 1 over while Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed are 2 over. Recent PGA TOUR winners Garrick Higgo (73), Patrick Cantlay (74), Marc Leishman (75), Harris English (75), and Lucas Glover (75) also struggled.
Rory McIlroy needed a final-hole birdie to shoot even-par 70.
Mickelson’s 80 was his worst round in The Open – which he won in 2013 – since an 85 in the third round of the 1998 tournament. Those represent just two of now 93 rounds in The Open where the veteran has failed to break 80.
Five bogeys on the front nine started the pain as the six-time major winner turned in 40 and another five dropped shots in his last six holes, including a closing double bogey, left him tied for last in the 154-man field.
Spaniard Rahm was the pre-tournament favorite after his impressive U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines last month, but he lost his way on the ninth hole when he failed to escape from a fairway bunker on the first attempt and made a double bogey.
Playing with Oosthuizen, Rahm felt like his wheels were spinning despite making plenty of grinding pars, until a final-hole birdie gave him something to smile about.
DeChambeau couldn’t get his radar adjusted off the tee. He managed four birdies on the round but hit the same number of fairways in regulation meaning he was hamstrung by five bogeys.
“The driver sucks. It's not a good face for me and we're still trying to figure out how to make it good on the miss-hits. I'm living on the razor's edge,” DeChambeau bemoaned post round.
“It's quite finicky for me because it's a golf course that's pretty short, and so when I hit driver and it doesn't go in the fairway, it's first cut or it's in the hay, it's tough for me to get it out on to the green and control that… I couldn't control my wedges.”