The Open 2021: Sun, sea and golf and the challenge of playing in gusts of wind, ruthless rough and blind shots



Most people can’t wait to hit the coast and sample the delights of the sun, sea, sand, and an ice cream or two.

Golfers, however, are less sure of this, at least when playing links golf.

The Open Golf Tournament is usually held on courses located near the sea in the UK, which usually consist of sandy soil and are shaped by natural terrain.

After an excellent first round at the Open 2021, Jordan Spieth relished the chance he had to test himself on the Royal St George’s course in Kent, UK.

However, other golfers are less convinced by the pleasures of golfing by the sea.

“This is not my favorite venue where we have played. There are a lot of blind tee shots, nil shots, pretty wavy fairways, ”said Brooks Koepka, four-time major winner, at his pre-tournament press conference.

Koepka plays his second shot on the 1st hole.

David Cannon / R & A / Getty Images

Koepka plays his second shot on the 1st hole.

Golf Links is a tough and unique style of golf course that can punish you for the slightest mistake, but much like that ice cream by the sea, when you play together and get it right, life just seems to have one. slightly sweeter taste.

Often built on sand dunes, links courses tend to have little vegetation except for the tall, thick grass which provides unforgiving terrain for players.

Between long, dense waves and a strong sea wind, the slightest mistake can lead to calamity, with countless players’ tournament hopes plummeting over the years.

PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson believed he was “playing long before” this year’s Open, only recently having become golf’s oldest major winner.

Mickelson plays a shot from the rough at the 12th hole at Royal St George's.

Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Mickelson plays a shot from the rough at the 12th hole at Royal St George’s.

However, in Thursday’s opening round Mickelson, 50, finished last in the 156-man field after shooting an 80-of-10 over par.

Despite scoring a respectable two over Friday, Mickelson struggled consistently with his driving, constantly having to play off the hard. He missed the cut on Friday and was therefore excluded from the last two rounds of the Open.

The six-time major winner admitted after his round on Friday that he had “challenges that remained sharp”.

The ‘bomb and gauge’ technique adapted by fellow American Bryson DeChambeau – a technique which earned him his first major victory and pushed him up the golf rankings – was also challenged by Royal St George’s.

Young DeChambeau, 26, admitted his driver ‘sucked’ on Thursday and his inconstancy with the club meant he had only cut the skin of his teeth, and his struggles continued on Saturday.

READ: From ‘Biggest Setback’ to ‘Biggest Breakthrough’: How Jon Rahm Became a Big Winner

Louis Oosthuizen plays an approach shot on the 16th hole on day two of the Open at Royal St George's.

Oisin Keniry / Getty Images Europe / Getty Images

Louis Oosthuizen plays an approach shot on the 16th hole on day two of the Open at Royal St George’s.

The Open leaders after the first two laps – Louis Oosthuizen, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth – used their skills with their irons rather than relying on their drivers and it paid dividends.

All three players made over 77% of the greens on the first 36 holes of the tournament as they mitigated the dangers and pitfalls of the links course.

With an Open already to his name, Spieth looks like a kid enthusiastically lining up for ice cream as he showcases different skills here in the UK than on the PGA Tour.

“It brings a lot of feeling to the game,” he told media after his first round. “I’m shortening the swings here and hitting more punches, and stuff I should probably be doing at home. Here you focus less on the swing and more on the shot, because the second you take your brain off the shot you are hitting, you might not find your ball.

“Instead of just a practice shot in Palm Springs, there’s always a shot to play that gives you a little edge. Some club selections, depending on whether you hit a fade or a draw, they cover different distances of 15 or 20 yards. To sum up, there are just a lot of external factors here, and I think it’s the outside that I have to live.

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Spieth plays his second shot on the 7th hole at Royal St George's.

David Cannon / R & A / Getty Images

Spieth plays his second shot on the 7th hole at Royal St George’s.

Morikawa’s heroism in the second round – seeking to become the first man to win both the PGA Championship and the Open in his debut – was mainly due to his magic with his irons; its blind precision canceling out the natural complications offered by the course of bonds.

Whether Spieth or Morikawa can beat Oosthuizen’s lead on Saturday remains to be seen, but the three men testify that to conquer a golf course, a golfer must have all the tools in the toolkit.

The question now is who will celebrate with the Claret Jug – the Open Trophy – and who knows maybe even an ice cream on Sunday?

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