On a day when Cameron Tringale required just 61 shots at the Scottish Open, Jordan Spieth became the latest high-profile golfer to express fears that the Old Course at St Andrews has been overtaken by equipment advances.
Tringale’s nine under par on a calm morning at the Renaissance Club will create only minor ripples. Yet if the sacred turf of the Old Course is pulled apart in similar fashion at next week’s 150th Open Championship – for which the weather forecast is fair – those calling for action against driving distances will have been handed fuel for their argument.
Spieth, who signed for a 68 here, can see the point. “Yeah, I think it might be,” he replied when asked if St Andrews can ever be too easy. “It’s hard for me to tell given 2015 we had so much wind that we couldn’t even play. But I think if it’s like it was this morning out here, it’s just a wedge contest, really.
“It was not necessarily built for today’s technology. But I think that even a nice 10-15mph an hour would show something to it. It doesn’t look like we are going to get any rain, so I think the defence could be how fast it plays. It could get like Muirfield was in 2013 and I think that regardless of wind conditions, that would change the golf course significantly and make it challenging to hold fairways and greens.”
Ian Poulter, who won the right to compete here after the decision of an arbitration panel, took to the 10th tee at lunchtime in the company of his fellow LIV rebel Branden Grace. They received no audible reaction from spectators. It was, however, apparent that very few were inclined to follow the duo who have accepted the riches of the Saudi Arabian-backed breakaway tour.
So, too, has Justin Harding. The South African, who played at the head of the field in the morning wave, posted a 65. “There are times when it’s a little uncomfortable,” he said of the backdrop. “I am trying my best just to play golf.
“That’s ultimately what we are. We just try and go out there and make a bit of money on the golf course and put food on the table. It’s an awkward situation for me to be in but I just need to make the best of it.”
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy continued their Open preparation with a round at the renowned Ballybunion links on the west coast of Ireland. Further confirmation that Woods, who missed last month’s US Open through injury, will compete at St Andrews has been provided by his listing on the pre-tournament interview schedule.