Whenever Jerry Kelly is asked about how he made an 11 on the first hole of the 2003 Open Championship he will have a ready answer which will not be the old golfing joke about missing a putt for a 10. Kelly earned a huge round of applause for single-putting from fully 30 feet to bring to an end his long and tortuous opening hole.
Welcome to the Open. Injury was added to insult for the 36-year-old American when at the 17th hole Kelly hurt a finger attempting to hit a three-iron from the rough. After completing an 86, 15 over par, Kelly was diagnosed with tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheaf covering the tendon on the ring finger of his left hand.
Kelly underwent heat treatment but, having been told by the chief medical officer of the Royal and Ancient that the injury is unlikely to have improved by today, he later withdrew. "He said for me to go home and see a hand specialist," Kelly said. "The main thing is not to do any more damage to it if I don't have to."
But the man from Madison, Wisconsin, did not want it to appear he was running away after his nightmare start. "I want to stress that although I've pulled out it has nothing to do with what happened on the first. They are great golf fans over here and I want them to know I didn't shoot 86 and say: 'Hey, see yah!' "
Although records are not complete, in the last 20 years the worst score at an opening hole in the Open was Bobby Clampett's eight at Royal Birkdale in 1983.
Only 36 players out of 156 held the first fairway yesterday, and Tiger Woods was not one of them as he lost his ball in the right rough during a triple bogey seven. Kelly, a two-time winner in America, pulled his first drive into the left rough, then flew sideways over the fairway into the right rough with a second attempt to hack out. After four more attempts, during which he moved the ball no more than five feet at a time, he took an unplayable lie and dropped under penalty. His eighth was a six-iron which finished left of the green and he chipped to 30 feet before holing the putt.
"I made a mistake off the tee and it is one of those things," he said. "I was in a bit of a daze. It was depressing when you put in so much work for the week. I haven't had a pint all week. I may now."Reuse content