Not everyone in the field for the 138th Open Championship wanted to find themselves in the lead after the first round. There is such a thing as peaking too early. Graeme McDowell knows this all too well.
Twice in the last three Opens the Northern Irishman has been at the top of the leaderboard on the first day. Yet his best result in five previous attempts is a tie for 11th place and that was by coming from the pack.
So after a steady opening 68, McDowell was content to look on the bright side. "I don't think there's any point in leading the Open after round one," he said. "I've tried that and it doesn't work. I'm happy to sit back and creep up the leaderboard over the weekend."
Lee Westwood, however, could not avoid the spotlight. Not only was he out in the group viewed by most lenses, both human and mechanical, alongside Tiger Woods and Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, but the Worksop man promptly birdied the first three holes.
On the fourth, a difficult par-three, Westwood put his tee shot to four feet but missed the chance to get to four under. If that put a halt to the fireworks, a bogey at the par-five seventh was a poor error, while he found the burn at the 16th for a double bogey. Eventually he signed for a two-under 68 and could not escape the feeling that something better had been on the cards.
"A 68 is probably as bad as it could have been," Westwood said. "I had a lot of chances but I'm happy with my position and the way I'm playing."
The Ryder Cup man added: "It is nice to have a gallery and an atmosphere out there. I expected it to be busy and there was a fair bit of activity. I enjoy playing with Tiger and I had the chance to practice my Japanese."
Paul Casey, the world No 3, was another Englishman failing to capitalise on a good start. He was out in 31 but could not continue the form that has brought him three wins this season. David Howell followed the trend, out in four under but finishing with a 68, although helped by a birdie at the last this still represented his best round of the year.
The accident-prone player from Swindon suffered his latest injury while helping a friend move a washing machine from a first-floor flat down to the garage. A lower back strain has meant he has only finished four tournaments this year. "My crazy decision to attempt a potential move into the removals industry wrecked the first half of my season," he said.
On a happier note, Howell has recently married his long-term girlfriend and surely cannot face more pressure this week than on Tuesday night when he made his debut as an after dinner speaker in front of 270 members of the media and the golf industry.
"I have always enjoyed talking to the press after a round," he said during a brilliantly entertaining performance, "but these days this is the only way I can get an audience with you." A few more sub-par rounds and he'll soon get called to the interview room again.
Second-round tee times, weather and TV
(Turnberry, Today's starting times; GB & Irl unless stated)
06.30 T Stewart (Aus), D McGrane, M Kuchar (US)
06.41 D Higgins, J Kavanagh, D Gaunt (Aus)
06.52 G Bhullar (India), R Davies, J Driscoll (US)
07.03 A Quiros (Sp), S Lyle, S Marino (US)
07.14 N Faldo, S Kjeldsen (Den), B Gay (US)
07.25 B Curtis (US), M Weir (Can), R Fisher
07.36 S Ames (Can), T Clark (SA), C Howell III (US)
07.47 E Els (SA), L Glover (US), M Kaymer (Ger)
07.58 J Rose, H Mahan (US), A Romero (Arg)
08.09 C Montgomerie, Z Johnson (US), K J Choi (Kor)
08.20 R McIlroy, A Kim (US), R Goosen (SA)
08.31 T Hamilton (US), S Hansen (Den), T Kondo (Japan)
08.42 I Poulter, J B Holmes (US), M A Jimenez (Sp)
08.58 P Casey, R Imada (Japan), A Cabrera (Arg)
09.09 P Harrington, J Furyk (US), G Ogilvy (Aus)
09.20 P Lawrie, D Love III (US), S Appleby (Aus)
09.31 P McGinley, C Pettersson (Swe), J Daly (US)
09.42 S Gross* (Ger), D Toms (US), T Lehman (US)
09.53 J Kingston (SA), C Hoffman (US), F Jacobson (Swe)
10.04 P Goydos (US), F Molinari (It), R Sterne (SA)
10.15 T Levet (Fr), RS Johnson (Swe), K Sutherland (US)
10.26 T Aiken (SA), P Hedblom (Swe), P Baker
10.37 F A Hed (Swe), J Geary (NZ), D Drysdale
10.48 K Kuboya (Japan), B Vaughan (US), E Saltman
10.59 T Wood (Aus), D Smail (NZ), O Fisher
11.10 T Pilkadaris (Aus), S Surry, K Oda (Japan)
11.41 M Campbell (NZ), P Broadhurst, M Calcavecchia (US)
11.52 J Overton (US), P Larrazabal (Sp), G Orr
12.03 A Wall, R Sabbatini (SA), J Senden (Aus)
12.14 N Watney (US), G Storm, C Schwartzel (SA)
12.25 R Echenique (Arg), R Finch, M O'Meara (US)
12.36 N Dougherty, D Duval (US), A Scott (Aus)
12.47 K Perry (US), G Norman (Aus), O Wilson
12.58 H Stenson (Swe), S Stricker (US), W-C Liang (China)
13.09 T Watson (US), S Garcia (Sp), M Manassero* (It)
13.20 P Hanson (Swe), D Johnson (US), L Oosthuizen (SA)
13.31 V Singh (Fiji), B Watson (US), G McDowell
13.42 C Villegas (Col), Y Ikeda (Japan), S O'Hair (US)
13.53 A Yano (Japan), L Donald, D Clarke
14.09 J Leonard (US), R Allenby (Aus), A Hansen (Den)
14.20 T Woods (US), L Westwood, R Ishikawa (Japan)
14.31 R Green (Aus), C Campbell (US), G Fernandez-Castaño (Sp)
14.42 D Howell, S Cink (US), T Jaidee (Thai)
14.53 R Jacquelin (Fr), K Duke (US), M Goggin (Aus)
15.04 B Baird (US), M Brown (NZ), J Edfors (Swe)
15.15 D J Trahan (US), P Marksaeng (Thai), M Brier (Aut)
15.26 C Wood, B Weekley (US), R Pampling (Aus)
15.37 J Ahlers (SA), B Molder (US), R Ramsay
15.48 B Mayfair (US), M Cayeux (Zim), L Saltman
15.59 R Rock, M Laird, B Crane (US)
16.10 B Grace (SA), T Haylock, B Snedeker (US)
16.21 M Wright (Aus), D Wardrop, P Ellebye (Den)
* Denotes amateur
Today: Sunny intervals, with patchy rain clearing in the afternoon. Max temp: 16c. Tomorrow: Cool, with light rain. 16c.
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