Where was the wind?
Where was the cool temperature?
Where was the outerwear?
Where was the tough links layout?
There was none of the above to be found Thursday on the bonnie banks of the Firth Of Forth at the ritzy Renaissance Club. This is supposed to be the Scottish Open but it looked like something from the old Web.com Tour.
Would you believe 118 players shot under par on day one of a European Tour event that’s supposed to offer some prep work for the Open Championship?
At least one player didn’t get the memo that they were seemingly handing out birdies for free. Rickie Fowler was not one of the 118. He shot 71, even par, which looked like about four-over on a day when there wasn’t a puff of wind early and maybe just a wee bit of a breeze as the day progressed.
Add to that the fact that early, early morning rains softened the place up so much that it looked like golf in America.
So it made total sense that an American went out and shot eight-under, one of four who share the first round lead.
Matt The Famous Caddie Mizer Kuchar had one heckuva nice time. And why not? The sun was shining and you could see your shadow on this very un-Scottish type of day. The good old Kooch shot his eight-under 63 with eagles on both of the back nine par fives and seven birdies. Would you believe he was nine-under with two bogeys?
“Conditions were pretty easy when we started the round. Still, eight-under on a links golf course, I didn’t see those kind of scores for myself, or even for anybody,” Kuchar said after a pretty stress-free day. “Wind picked up there the last two hours. It was challenging. I was awfully glad to keep the ball in play and I snuck in a couple eagles, which were awfully helpful.”
Awfully helpful? Can’t imagine anything awful about two eagles, Kooch.
For the record, none of the Scottish golf fans on hand were giving it that ridiculous “Koooooooooooooch” chant that you hear back in the states.
And speaking of reserved receptions — the feature group in the afternoon wave had Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and a rookie from Scotland — Robert McIntyre — thrown into the fray with Rickie and Rory. Rory got polite, reserved golf applause. So did Rickie. McIntyre got a rousing ovation from the home crowd. They figured the kid needed some encouragement. After all, he was thrown in there with the field’s two biggest names.
Rory had what amounted to a very so-so day. He set the tone for mediocrity with a missed four-footer for birdie at the first after a perfect 348-yard drive on the par five. Second went long, third to four feet.
Rory suffered a pair of bogeys, both the result of three-putt greens. In all, Rory’s four-under 67 put him in with, dig this — 24 other players at that number. Yes, 67 was about even-par on this easy, peasy day.
Hopefully things will get tougher on Friday.
Someone needs to have a word with Mother Nature.
At this point, the Renaissance Club looks helpless, she simply can’t defend her honor.
And this might give a lot of guys a false sense of security.
The good folks at the R&A are watching and they’re about ready turn the dial up to “diabolical” next week in Portrush.
Editor’s Note: The hot play of Kooch The Caddie Mooch cooled off considerably on Friday. Kuchar could only manage a one-under par 70 and that left him five behind the early clubhouse leaders. Bernd Wiesberger put up the best round of the week with a 10-under par 61. That got him to 14-under, tied with Lee Slattery and Erik Van Rooyen, both have twin 64s in the book. Rory McIlroy birdied his final two holes of the day for another 67, he’s six back of the lead going into the weekend. Rickie Fowler’s bogey on his final hole Friday left him at four-under and sweating the 36-hole cut, which had a chance to move to five-under by day’s end.