ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Much of the experience is when the golfing world descends on legendary links like the Old Course and Ernie Els certainly benefits from a fair amount of institutional knowledge when it comes to The Open.
The two-time Open champion has 11 top-10 championship finishes and was a 2000 runner-up at St. Andrews. It shouldn’t have been surprising that the South African found himself on the front page of the leaderboard late in his first lap on day one at St. Andrews.
Complete scores from the 150th Open Championship
“A lot,” Els said when asked how much experience came into play on Thursday. “Yet even playing it so many times, you’re still not sure about the rebound and so on. I hit the bunker on the 6th tee, which I don’t think I’ve ever been in, and then obviously what I did on the 17th.”
Yes No. 17. Even for Els, this was a first.
Sailing at 4 under par through 17 holes, the Big Easy’s tee shot sailed just above the sheds that once housed the trains, bounced down a gravel path and headed towards the Old Course Hotel . Els made a double-bogey-6 on the penultimate hole en route to a 2-under 70.
“I played well. I rode well and I played well,” he said. “I just got that fucking tee shot on the 17th. Either way, it’s my day.”