In the same group as top-flight rebel Brooks Koepka, Cam Smith fired a dominant opening-round salvo at The Open to raise Australia’s hopes as boos erupted at St Andrews.
Playing in the same group as Brooks Koepka – one of the most high-profile defectors to join the Rebel LIV series – Smith went about his business without a fuss, shooting a brilliant opening round of 5-under 67 at St Andrews.
“It’s nice to get off to a hot start. A couple of birdies in the first five there and really sets the tone,” Smith said.
“There were a lot of Aussies in the crowd which is nice to hear.
“You almost get goosebumps. Standing on the 1st tee at St Andrews at an Open is something I only dreamed of as a kid.
“And for it all to be real and for me to have the support that I put out there was pretty cool.”
Smith, one of the pre-tournament favorites to win the famous Claret Jug, rolled six birdies on the legendary Old Course, including one on the scenic last hole, despite a brief injury scare midway through the back nine when he came out of the rough hacked out.
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“It felt like I was a little bit hyperextended in the back of my knee,” he said.
“It took a few holes. I’m a Queensland man, get over it pretty quickly.”
Smith’s 5-under was by far his best start at the British Open, surpassing his 69 at the par 70 Royal St George’s last year, which also bodes well for Australia’s chances of ending a 29-year drought at the world’s oldest tournament .
The Australians have won the men’s British Open a total of nine times, with Greg Norman being the most recent winner in 1993. But only two Australians have won at St Andrews, the revered home of golf: Peter Thomson (1955) and Kel Nagle (1960).
One of 11 Australians in the field this year, Smith finished six shots ahead of Koepka, one of 23 men in the tournament who have joined Norman’s Saudi-funded breakaway streak that has divided the sport.
Some were harassed by the crowd before teeing off on the first hole, including England’s Ian Poulter, who hooked his opening shot almost out of bounds before recovering to sign for a 69 that caught a monster 150-foot Eagle -putt included.
When asked about the cold reception, Poulter claimed he didn’t hear anything unpleasant because he tuned out any criticism of the players who came to LIV.
“I won’t listen. I’m here to play golf. This could probably be my last Open Championship at St Andrews. So I’m trying to enjoy it despite the questioning,” Poulter said.
“I stay out of the way. I don’t read social media. I just want to play golf, right? I can only do my job. When I hear a lot of nonsense, I get distracted. That will never be good for me.”
American Patrick Reed – who brazenly wore LIV logos on his cap and shirt – was also taunted by viewers on the first, while Multi-Major Phil Mickelson was taunted on the 11th when News Corp heard a viewer “enjoying.” the money, Phil!” exclaimed.
Mickelson shot an even par 72 and then balked when repeatedly asked by reporters if he was upset at not attending the champions dinner earlier this week.
“Leave it, old man. Let it be,” he said.
“That’s three times you’ve asked the same question. I don’t know what to tell you. I couldn’t be happier.”
Undeterred by the excitement, Smith was one of three Australians to start early and break par in the windy conditions on the classic Scottish links layout.
Min Woo Lee, the younger brother of two-time LPGA Major winner Minjee Lee, recovered from a double bogey on his second hole to make an eagle on the 14th and sign for a 3-under 69.
“It was a great rest. The only thing I’m not good at is recovering from bad shots,” said Lee, who got up before sunrise to tee off at 6:35 in the first group.
He had set his alarm for 4.30am but woke up half an hour earlier because he had watched a program about Tiger Woods’ victory at St Andrews in 2000 the night before but had not closed his computer properly.
“I closed the laptop and it started playing when it was closed. I don’t know what happened,” he said.
“It woke me up at 4:00 am. It was a good wake up call I think.
“I had a quick breakfast and drove off. I was a little late to warm up, but you can’t get up before 4:00 a.m.
Australia’s Lucas Herbert got off to a great start on his opening round, making birdies on two of his first four holes and then reeling off 10 straight pars to close for a 70.
Norman predicts an end to the drought at the Aussie British Open
British Open outcast Greg Norman tips Cameron Smith to end Australia’s long drought at world’s oldest golf major.
It’s been 29 years since an Australian won the Claret Jug, but the Shark believes that could change this week when the tournament returns to St Andrews.
And the player Norman thinks could pull it off is Smith, who won this year’s Players’ Championship in Florida and finished third at the Masters.
“Maybe that’s it. A golf course like St. Andrews would be great for Cam Smith,” Norman told News Corp.
“He just needs to get rid of the left-right walking now and then.
“He’s done that a few times. He got away with it at the TPC so he needs to eliminate that loose shot he has there.
“But I think St Andrews would be a good golf course for him because he hits a lot of runs with his driver.
“If he’s driving it well, he’s driving really well, so I’d put him up there to consider lifting him up.”
Only four Australians have won the British Open: Peter Thomson (five times), Norman (twice), Kel Nagle and Ian Baker Finch (once each).
Nagle won the 100th edition in 1960 while Norman is the youngest winner after triumphing at Royal St George’s in 1993.
Norman will be banned from attending this year’s 150th anniversary celebrations as punishment for his involvement in the Saudi-funded Rebel League.
“There’s a lot of great young talent emerging. I love seeing these kids. I don’t know them, I wish I knew, but we’re probably three generations apart, but I love watching them and seeing their results and impact,” he said.
“They all look damn good technically. Wherever they come from, whether it’s college or high school, whether it’s academies or whatever, they’re good at technology.
“There are so many ways these days through technology like YouTube to study the golf swing down to a nanosecond and learn where to be and what to do and so I think these kids are really advanced, but you have to still come out there and play.
“However, I like what I’m seeing in this young talent.”
Of the four men’s majors, the British Open is by far Australia’s most successful, with nine titles, more than the other three combined.
Norman believes this is because Australians are better able to adapt to the Scottish seaside links courses, having grown up on Melbourne’s famous sand belt courses.
“A lot of the links courses have massive run-offs, look at St Andrews for example. Many of our bunkers can be very inconvenient and punishable on our sand belt courses,” he said.
“I shouldn’t say there are many similarities, but there are similarities.
“When you can play Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Yarra Yarra, Huntingdale, Metropolitan golf courses of any type, you learn how to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible and you learn how to spin the golf ball.”
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is the pre-tournament favorite to win this week’s tournament.
He won at Royal Liverpool in 2014 but says nothing would be better than winning the 150th at St Andrews, which features 11 bunkers that come into play when the sea breeze picks up.
“It’s the holy grail of our sport,” McIlroy said. “Not many people will get this opportunity to achieve that, but that’s what winning an Open at St Andrews is. That is one of the highest achievements that you can achieve in golf.”
Originally posted as The Open Championship 2022 Round 1: Cameron Smith shoots a brilliant 67 while boos erupt for Saudi rebels
https://www.codesports.com.au/sport/british-open-2022-british-open-outcast-greg-norman-tips-an-australian-to-win-the-claret-jug/news-story/4352c0c61b677d383c9e08465fde8c17?nk=ef294166607bc647df405da97c64d765-1657808767 The Open Championship 2022 results: boos at St Andrews as Cameron Smith shoots 67 in first round, Adam Scott