Ryan Ballengee of SB Nation's golf blog, Waggle Room, stops by to weigh in on the first round of the British Open.
The opening round of the 139th Open Championship was truly a Dickensian tale of two rounds. The morning wave of players faced a nearly defenseless version of the Old Course. With almost no wind and conditions still moist from the Wednesday downpour that cancelled the Champions Challenge, seemingly every player in that part of the draw took advantage.
Those early returns were stunning. Rory McIlroy became the 24th man in major championship history and the eighth man in an Open to shoot 63. John Daly, who won at St. Andrews in 1995, shot a 66 that could have easily been 62. Even Tiger Woods, whose game more resembles Paul Goydos, shot 67 (that, too, could have been better.) Perhaps the pixie dust behind the PGA Tour's fourth 59 in history caught Woods.
But there was enough magic for everyone. In all, nearly 40 players in the morning wave broke 70. That is almost a dozen more than any Open round ever played at the "Home of Golf." At a certain point, it seemed less magic and more like a David Copperfield (the one that was married to Claudia Schiffer) show -- clearly a fraud.
In the Scottish afternoon, though, St. Andrews brought in wind and rain that restored its bite. The delta on the course almost seemed perfectly timed for the hardest luck players of our generation to start their Opens. Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Phil Mickelson and others notorious for "almost" as much as " for-sure" faced a much different St. Andrews.
Westwood gutted out an even par back nine to match Woods in 67. South African Louis Oosthuizen career a 65 that looked like it could be an even more impressive score than McIlroy's effort. But those few examples were the standouts in the afternoon. Compared to the morning, the second wave was downright boring. No real fireworks, just pars and bogeys.
On Friday, the course is expected to bathe in the sun and be dried by more wind. In other words, the hangover from Wednesday will be cured and the party will be over.
The 139th Open will not be the one where scoring records are destroyed, but this championship presents a plethora of possible historic storylines.
Can McIlroy continue his torrid pace and career (albeit short) ownership of the Old Course?
Will Woods prevent McIlroy and the field from usurping his title as the greatest competitor ever in the Open at St. Andrews?
And will someone English, like Lee Westwood, commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nick Faldo's Open win here with a breakthrough of their own?
As is true for all answers at the Old Course, the answers lie in the wind.
For more on the 2010 British Open, check out our golf blog, Waggle Room.