The Open makes professional golfers look very silly. That is likely to be the most effective half

Tony Finau placing backwards in a greenside bunker.


HOYLAKE, England — On the events you see knowledgeable golfer line as much as do one thing that appears very exhausting or silly, that’s usually as a result of the identical shot can be exhausting or silly for you, a a lot worse golfer.

Take Phil Mickelson’s iconic shot from the pine straw proper of 13 at Augusta Nationwide as prime instance. You’d be extra more likely to slip on the needles, shank the ball off the trunk of a close-by tree and have it ricochet again off the aspect of your overconfident cranium than pull that shot off. However you understand how it went for Lefty.

So once I noticed Justin Thomas line up a brief chip shot over a bunker shot on the first gap at Royal Liverpool on Thursday, my first thought was one thing like this:

“Huh, it appears like he’s going to chip this straight into the bunker.”

My second thought, which got here instantly thereafter, was to dismiss the primary thought, as a result of Justin Thomas could be very actually an all-world chipper of the golf ball and I’m staring enviously on the bowl of chocolate pudding being consumed by my neighbor within the media heart.

However then, positive sufficient, Thomas did precisely what it regarded like he’d do. He chipped it straight into the far wall of the bunker. It hit off the far aspect and again into the center. He in all probability hadn’t missed his spot by greater than a yard or so. However consequently it regarded very, very dumb.

Welcome to the Open Championship.

The Open is just not essentially the most troublesome of the 4 majors. It might, actually, be the least troublesome. And whereas the Masters makes chipping seem like 3D chess and the PGA Championship makes birdies seem like acts of heroism and the U.S. Open makes golf seem like a psychological torture chamber, the Open continues to be the most effective at making its rivals look very dumb.

It’s not honest to single out Thomas, so let’s give him some firm.

Enter Jordan Spieth, JT’s well-known pal who drew a humorous lie on the correct aspect of the par-4 eighth after which did one thing he’d by no means performed earlier than.

“I simply had my face vast open, ball above my ft on a extremely unhealthy lie, making an attempt to flop lower an 8-iron,” Spieth mentioned. “I really feel like I’m nearly as good as anyone at that shot and I assume the hosel received there first. I’m not likely positive.”

That’s nearly as good a proof of a shank as you possibly can ask for. It additionally led to a misplaced ball and a double-bogey 6. Certain, Spieth bounced again. He posted 69. However he admitted he was shaken up by the weird miss. Funky lies could make you look dumb, and the Open is crammed with funky lies within the tough.

Need one other instance? Good! We don’t even have to depart the good friend group.

Rickie Fowler was cruising alongside to the tune of two beneath par via 17 holes when he arrived at No. 18. Beneath typical American-golf circumstances the 18th can be a comparatively simple par-5, however there’s quirk injected into each old-school hyperlinks course, and the 18th at Royal Liverpool has inner out-of-bounds operating down the whole thing of the correct aspect, simply paces off the golf green, as a result of that a part of the property was a horse monitor. Fowler discovered the golf green along with his tee shot however then fired his second shot nicely proper and nicely O.B. Then he dropped and hit one other ball nicely proper and nicely O.B. His subsequent shot was really sensible; he hit the inexperienced from some 290 yards. However there are some pictures that may’t be un-shot, and two O.B. balls en path to snowman 8 fall very a lot in that class.

Maybe Fowler feels higher figuring out that greater than a dozen execs additionally made double bogey or worse at No. 18. Distress loves firm and looking out silly does, too. I ought to point out that to Collin Morikawa, who regardless of being a generational irons participant shanked his method shot on the par-4 third onto the alternative aspect of the identical ex-horse monitor. That was O.B., too. That was double bogey.

Over time only a few golfers have ridden the knife’s fringe of stupidity and brilliance higher than Mickelson himself, and Thursday was no exception. He drove the inexperienced on the par-4 4th (sensible) practically hanging Morikawa within the course of (silly) as he completed off a birdie putt of his personal.

Simply three holes later he was trying to find his ball in an enormous gorse bush (silly), the kind of exercise that’ll make you harm each outdoors and in. And two holes after that he practically jarred his tee shot on the par-3 ninth (sensible), ending simply inches from the cup.

There was additionally the kind of garden-variety stupidity of taking part in skilled golf, like Rory McIlroy horseshoeing a two-footer at No. 8. That’s by no means going to look good.

However the principle catalyst within the Open’s mischief manufacturing facility is the pot bunkers. Discovering any bunker this aspect of the pond has all the time appeared like a superb technique to make one thing unhealthy occur. This week that’s amplified, because of a grimy trick the course setup rascals deployed to make balls settle close to the perimeters of bunkers and their steep edges.

That led to Tony Finau utilizing a putter within the bunker and taking part in backwards simply to depart himself an opportunity at extracting the subsequent one.

That led to Jon Rahm pitching backwards out of a fairway bunker, leaving him 162 yards for his third shot when he’d had simply 159 yards left along with his second.

Lucas Herbert was tied for the early lead when he arrived on the quick par-3 seventeenth however then missed the inexperienced left. Then he hit his chip too exhausting, which meant it tumbled previous the opening and over the inexperienced and down the slope on the opposite aspect, the place it entered a chasmic, controversial new bunker. It took him two pictures to flee from there, he walked off with a brutal triple-bogey 6 and he was clearly perturbed by the response from the spectators.

“Felt like there was about 5,000 skilled golfers sitting round us within the stands watching it. But it surely’s simply not straightforward,” Herbert mentioned. The spectators are, after all, the important thing to the stupidity {of professional} golf. Most of us humiliate ourselves within the firm of our personal foursomes however these advantageous gents achieve this for our leisure.

Main the golf match doesn’t, actually, exempt you from trying foolish. Enter Christos Lamprecht, the novice whose shock opening-round 66 put him atop the leaderboard — however it wasn’t achieved with out contorting his 6-foot-8 body across the fringe of a pot bunker on the 4th.

Christo Lamprecht labored exhausting to flee a greenside bunker at No. 4.

The Open

There’s easy magnificence within the stupidity. At its most elemental golf is a recreation of people in fields with balls navigating obstacles. The consideration doesn’t come from avoiding the obstacles. There’s honor in confronting stupidity, accepting it and plowing via it. The consideration comes from being within the subject to start with, figuring out obstacles await.

Thomas’ day began with the indignity of that bunker at No. 1. Loads of obstacles awaited Thomas on the shut of his spherical, too. He hit his second shot out of bounds. He hit his fourth right into a greenside bunker. He hit his fifth off the wall of that bunker, and it caromed into the adjoining greenside bunker. He hit his sixth sideways out of that bunker, taking part in away from the opening. Earlier than lengthy he was tapping in for a quadruple-bogey 9, a depressing technique to cap off a spherical of 11-over 82.

On Thursday, the one golfer who didn’t look silly was a person on the seaside bordering Royal Liverpool. He wielded a driver and a small pile of golf balls, took a large stance and swung away, sending one down the sand. It regarded terrifically zen.

In spite of everything, you possibly can’t miss a fairway when there isn’t a fairway. You possibly can’t be petrified of bunkers when sand is all you’ve received. You possibly can’t screw up a gap when there isn’t a gap.

However you possibly can’t win the Open Championship that manner, both.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior author for GOLF Journal/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams Faculty, the place he majored in English, and he’s the creator of 18 in America, which particulars the 12 months he spent as an 18-year-old dwelling from his automotive and taking part in a spherical of golf in each state.

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