Commentary

Jason Sobel's live blog

Originally Published: July 16, 2009
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

3:00 p.m. ET: Miguel Angel Jimenez is … the most interesting man in the world.

Of course, the opening-round leader at Turnberry would be even more interesting if he were able to add a Claret Jug to his mantel on Sunday evening. If he is able to parlay the 6-under 64 start into a victory, the guy known as the Mechanic would overcome a poor previous Open Championship record. In 16 career starts, he owns just one top-10, finishing in a share of third place at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's back in 2001.

In fact, the "closest" Jimenez has come to winning a major was a share of second place at the 2000 U.S. Open … when he lost to Tiger Woods by a mere 15 strokes.

The man with the vaunted Spafro (Spanish afro) is now one of a half-dozen players to own the all-time British Open first-round scoring record. None of the other five went on to win, but don't count Jimenez out just yet -- he loves this type of set-up.

"It is different than what we're used to playing, no?" he said after the round. "I like links courses, of course, because it's not only you get on the tee and bang, you put the ball in the air and it stops. You need to play; you need to have a game plan, no? You need to avoid the bunkers and keep it on the fairway. You see all the slopes around the greens to put the balls away. You need to play and you need to have passion and focus and all those things."

One thing is for certain: There will be plenty of focus on Jimenez when he tees off at 8:42 a.m. local time (3:42 a.m. ET) Friday morning.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Thanks for all of the e-mails, tweets and -- yes -- theme songs so far. I'll be back with Round 2 of the Live Blog from Turnberry at noon local time (7 a.m. ET) on Friday. Until then, hit 'em straight. …


2:47 p.m. ET: Bhullar? … Bhullar? … Bhullar?

Welcome to Gaganjeet Bhullar's Day Off. Actually, it was his day on, then off, then on again.

The 21-year-old from India shot a 1-over 71, but that hardly tells the whole story. He posted seven birdies, six pars, three bogeys, one double and two triples.

In other numbers-related news, Jeff from Parts Unknown notes that Jeff Overton is in the clubhouse with the day's most "beastly" round, carding six birdies, six pars and six bogeys for a dreaded 6-6-6.


2:41 p.m. ET: E-mail from Bruce in Parts Unknown:

Miguel Angel Jimenez once sank a 12-foot putt using only cigar smoke.

Miguel Angel Jimenez never misses fairways. He just stares at the rough until it shrinks back into the ground.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was tied for the lowest first-round score in Open history, but then he winked and all the other 64s became 65s.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is … the most interesting man in the world!


2:30 p.m. ET: E-mail from Kyle in Parts Unknown:

It's a good day to be Old Tom. First, Watson shoots 65, and now we have Tom Lehman at 3-under through 16.

Go figure. Each of Old Tom Morris' four Open titles came at Prestwick, just a few miles from this week's venue.


2:26 p.m. ET: And now a few words from Miguel Angel Jimenez … the most interesting man in the world:

"The way I played, the way I hit the ball on the golf course, very good from the tee to greens, you know? Missed only one fairway by one meter on the 14th and two meters on the 18th, and I hit them very well from tee to greens. And also being nice today with the putter, that what you need to make a score, no?"

I can't get enough. I need more.

"Experience is always important in the majors, no? The tournament just started; we have a few more days. It's nice to see Tom Watson there. It's great to have a player with that charisma on the top of the leaderboard."

Let's hear more from Jimenez, no?

"Never get in a hurry to smoke a cigar. Never get in a hurry to make good things in life. Be careful what your mind is going through now."

Miguel Angel Jimenez is … the most interesting man in the world!


2:20 p.m. ET: E-mail from Oakley in Parts Unknown:

What are your thoughts on Miguel Angel Jimenez? You gotta love a guy that lights up a fat stogie immediately after posting the lowest first-round score in Open history. And he called his 50-footer with 20 feet left! Not to mention his exceptional Ryder Cup record and play in majors. I feel that he's enjoying a $100 glass of wine right now to celebrate. He just exudes coolness, in my mind.

People hang on his every word, even the prepositions.

He could disarm you with his looks or his hands. Either way.

He can speak French … in Russian.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is … the most interesting man in the world.


2:15 p.m. ET: E-mail from Chris in Florida:

My 5 year-old's observations after joining me on the couch at 7 a.m. this morning:

• On Tom Watson: "Dat dude is owld. How is HE beating Tigew Woods?"
• On Turnberry: "The gwass is weawwy wong in Scotwand"
• On the Claret Jug: "Dat Twophy is awesome."
• On being told that champions drink scotch out of it: "I would dwink apple juice out of it."
• On players going low: "How come day don't do the birdie dance like you when you make a birdie on the Wii?"
• On trying to pronounce Mark Calcavecchia's last name: "Cal-pa-chei-k-ia … Cal-ch-u-jepliebub … Calcprtakerekiatack."


1:57 p.m. ET: E-mail from Tom in Savage, Minn.:

Looks like you saw this weather coming. If the weather turns bad tomorrow, would that be the Blog Jinx? That would be some power!

Here's an excerpt from the June 18 edition of the Live Blog:

1:27 p.m. ET: I believe this is the very definition of irony …

ShakerUBF@JasonSobel: Looks a nice day at Turnberry, ahem … http://twitpic.com/7pu6b

So, who wants to wager it'll be raining sideways with a three-club wind there a month from now?

Of course, at the British Open, such weather is charming. At the U.S. Open? Devastating.

Hmmm … if rain and wind is charming, I think the nice weather we've received so far can only be termed as "disappointing."

I think Mother Nature is on her summer vacation.


1:54 p.m. ET: Wondering about the lowest first-round score in British Open history? Wonder no more. …

• Miguel Angel Jimenez: 64 (Turnberry, 2009)

• Steve Pate: 64 (Muirfield, 1992)

• Raymond Floyd: 64 (Muirfield, 1992)

• Rodger Davis: 64 (Muirfield, 1987)

• Christy O'Connor Jr.: 64 (Royal St. George's, 1985)

• Craig Stadler: 64 (Royal Birkdale, 1983)

What do each of the previous five record-holders before Jimenez have in common? None of them went on to win the Claret Jug.

Not exactly a welcome stat for the Mechanic.


1:44 p.m. ET: Second eruption of gasps and some applause in the Turnberry media center today, though in reality I'm surprised most of my brethren aren't booing because their Tom Watson stories now need to be rewritten a bit.

Miguel Angel Jimenez just drained a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to shoot a 6-under 64 and claim sole possession of the lead.

For the round, the Mechanic missed only one fairway, took 27 putts and didn't card a bogey.


1:36 p.m. ET: E-mail from Joe in Fort Wayne, Ind.:

Why is Padraig Harrington changing his swing? Does he not like winning majors? Is there something about golf swings and getting older that forces you to do this? What gives?

The fact is, every pro golfer is always working on his swing, whether it's a major reconstruction or not. And the reason is always the same: to get better.

Here's what Paddy had to say earlier this week:

"I've just been working on things, trying to change my impact position, and through that a combination of other things turned up; when you change one thing, there are a few other adjustments needed. And trying to figure out which adjustment goes with which, has been a little bit more complicated than expected, taking a little longer than expected.

"Through all of that, my short game is pretty poor, and that ended up where it made plenty of changes. In the past, I tend to get away with it because I've had a good short game, but my short game has been poor so far this week, so any mistakes I'm making on the golf course have been … have turned into mistakes, have turned into bogeys and worse. It's been a combination of everything.

"In the swing terms, it's been trying to get everything coordinated together. Even though I started off thinking it was one change, it definitely turned into a number of changes.

"And then, obviously, putting it all together and making it automatic and then, obviously, having the short game to go with it. So all of those things. … Golf is always, for me anyway, a juggling act of keeping all the balls in the air and keeping everything working together. And I've obviously concentrated on one ball a lot, and a few of the other ones have fallen on the ground, and it's a question of picking them up and getting them all together again.

"I definitely think I'll be a better player at the end of this process. I definitely think going forward I'm quite happy with it all. Sometimes you make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. I've often done it and that's the way I feel about it.

"Yes, there's been variancy, because you're kind of more in the spotlight now. Obviously, I'm going for three in a row, so the spotlight is on me and that has made it -- it's not made it harder, but it's certainly made it more … it's a lot more high-profile. Yeah, probably a little harder to do when it's as high-profile. It's not as easy to do your own thing and just work away at it. But going forward, I'm going to be a better player and that's all that counts to me."

Even with all of those swing changes taking place, Harrington has looked solid so far, recording one birdie and 14 pars through 15 holes today.


1:30 p.m. ET: Great day for the old dudes.

We've already discussed Tom Watson (age 59), Mark O'Meara (52), Mark Calcavecchia (49) and Vijay Singh (46). Well, now tied for the lead is 45-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, who just birdied the 17th hole to move to 5-under.

By the way, of the nine players in the top dozen who have played the par-5 penultimate hole so far, every single one of 'em has made birdie.


1:18 p.m. ET: It's gotta be the pants.

Apparently dressed with the clothes of 10 leprechauns stitched together, mean green machine John Daly is currently 3-under-par through 13 holes.

Although JD is always thought of as being a basher off the tee, he also has great touch on and around the greens. That has been the case so far today, with seven one-putt greens and six two-putt greens.

Remember, though: We've seen early-round charges from Daly in other recent majors. At the 2007 PGA Championship, he shot an opening 67 to trail by a pair of strokes after 18 holes, only to follow with three rounds of 73 and finish in a share of 32nd place.


1:10 p.m. ET: E-mail from Jordan in Parts Unknown:

What are the chances that the weather takes a turn for the worse going into the weekend?

Honestly? It has to. It can't get any better.

And if you don't believe me, just ask a fellow tweeter and competitor.

Stewartcink: Best weather I've ever seen in 12 Brit Opens. And best course, too. Now back at the room trying to get some air to circulate.

Considering his opening-round score of 4-under 66, Cink would love for conditions to remain just like this for three more days.

I haven't seen the official weather report, but I don't need to. It's never right around here anyway, especially during major championship weeks.

I'd bet every pound in my pocket -- which, admittedly, isn't much -- that we'll get some rain and windy conditions here over the course of the next three days.


1:04 p.m. ET: After meeting with the media here at the interview room, Ben Curtis was asked by a reporter what he remembers about the Duel in the Sun back in 1977.

The question was really more of a joke, considering Curtis was born just two months before the event. Of course, in Columbus, Ohio, that's old enough to recall some of Jack Nicklaus' finer moments.

"I remember Jack making that putt," Curtis contended. "And that's about it."

Here's guessing that by the time Nicklaus won the next year's British Open, Curtis was giving a running play-by-play in front of the TV.


1:01 p.m. ET: First applause of the week here in the media center -- and no, it didn't come from the European contingent cheering on Ontymay.

With a devilish lie in a greenside bunker on 17, Retief Goosen is forced to go to his knees to hit a shot from above the hazard, with the ball right up against the face. Well, not only did he beat the odds by getting it out, he knocked the shot to within a foot of the hole. He tapped in for birdie from there to move to 3-under.

What a recovery. Round of applause, please.


12:55 p.m. ET: E-mail from Bill in Ann Arbor, Mich.:

Tiger Woods has played the last four holes of the first round of the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship (12 combined holes) in a whopping 7-over, each time turning a respectable and solid start to the major into a position where he has to fight from too far back.

Good point, though I wouldn't qualify being a half-dozen strokes behind as "too far back" right now. Woods was 5 back after Round 1 of the Masters and 10 back after the opening day at Bethpage, finishing in a share of sixth place each time. He has some ground to make up, but it's hardly impossible right now.


12:46 p.m. ET: From the ESPN Stats & Research Department …

Ben Curtis' 65 ties his lowest round at an Open. He shot a 65 in the final round in 2007 at Carnoustie.

Interesting. But not as noteworthy as this stat:

When he won the Claret Jug at Royal St. George's in 2003, he broke 70 only once (72-72-70-69).

Curtis has become a very good player -- especially at majors -- but he's a guy who tends to fare better when par is a good score as opposed to a guy who can consistently go low. He has played well at the British in the past -- in addition to his win, he has finished eighth or better in each of the last two years -- but if conditions remain benign and he needs to shoot, say, 12-15 under par to win, I don't necessarily like his chances. On a tougher course in windy weather, though, Curtis could very well stick around until the end.


12:38 p.m. ET: E-mail from Scott in Milwaukee:

So we heard about the Pimento sandwiches at Augusta. What's the media spread like at the Open Championsip? Blood pudding and haggis? Fish and chips?

Went with the fish and chips each of the last two days, which was pretty solid. Never got a chance to get out there for my hot carved salt beef bap earlier, so I settled for a plain ol' sandwich instead.

There is some blood pudding, though I haven't brought myself to eat something with that name. And haggis? No shot. No way. Even if it did get this recommendation from Ryo Ishikawa: "So very nice. Very nice taste."

It's all yours, Ryo. You can have my portion, too.


12:27 p.m. ET: Padraig Harrington hasn't finished in the top 10 in a dozen PGA Tour starts this season, he has missed the cut in his last five major tour appearances, and he's undergoing some major swing renovations.

When asked about his game the other day, the two-time defending champion said, "I would say it's very sketchy, obviously. Not really showing much form in the last couple of weeks. Not really knowing what to expect. I could only be hopeful, rather than expectant, to put in a good performance this week. We'll wait and see how that comes in."

So it should only make sense that through 11 holes, Harrington is shooting a bogey-free 1-under round so far.

Between him and Tom Watson and Paul Casey and David Howell (who is also on the leaderboard despite poor recent results), it just goes to show that previous form matters very little when players tee it up at the Open. Experience has a three-shot advantage over form every time.


12:23 p.m. ET: Tweet, tweet …

MNorty@JasonSobel: Who brings the biggest support if they are in the hunt on Sunday: Daly, McIlroy, Monty, Watson?

Great question. Each one of them would have plenty of backing from the fans. On the surface, I'd go with Watson, but Ontymay in his native Scotland? That may set off a bigger frenzy among the local folks.


12:18 p.m. ET: Heard in the media center: "I took the wrong fluke British Open winner at Ladbrokes!"

While Todd Hamilton is currently 7-over through 13 holes, Ben Curtis just finished a dozen shots better, recording a par on the final hole to post a 5-under 65 and tie Tom Watson as the clubhouse leader so far.

Watson and Curtis actually have something uncommon in common: They each won the British Open in their first appearance.


12:09 p.m. ET: And then there were co-leaders.

When he came off the course nearly five hours ago, Tom Watson said he would be surprised if 65 held up as the best round of the day. Well, in the span of two minutes, he just went from sole leader to one of three at the top.

Soren Hansen (through 13 holes) and 2004 champion Ben Curtis (through 17) each just posted birdies to move to 5-under.

That's further confirmation that the afternoon conditions aren't any more difficult than they were this morning.


12:07 p.m. ET: Blog Jinx!

After I wrote that Goose could be cooked at a moment's notice, Retief makes a bogey. Back to 2-under for the round.


12:02 p.m. ET: Tweet, tweet …

Mikey70@JasonSobel: What do you think of Monty at 1-under through 10? ... Should you pig latin him like Duval at the U.S. Open to beat the blog jinx?

Good call. And so allow me to introduce … Olincay Ontgomeriemay, aka Ontymay.

Only one problem: I got to this tweet too late.

Ontymay has made bogeys on three of his last four holes, dropping from 1-under through 10 to 2-over after 14. Maybe the Reverse Pig Latin Blog Jinx will help him right the ship.


11:52 a.m. ET: E-mail from Jimmy in Baton Rouge, La.:

How often can it be said that Tiger Woods is playing in a tournament where he has currently only the third-best score out of players with the initials TW?

I assume you're referring to Tom Watson, obviously, but also Thomas "Boo" Weekley. I'll even throw in Anthony "Tony" Wall, though I'm not sure anyone calls him that.

Here's a stat for you: Of the 14 players in the field whose last name begins with "W," Woods is currently ranked T-8 on the leaderboard.


11:46 a.m. ET: Retief Goosen is currently at 3-under through 12 holes.

That's nice and everything, but recent history has shown us that the Goose can be cooked at a moment's notice.

While in contention during the final round of last week's Scottish Open, he had a five-hole stretch in which he posted one four-putt, three three-putts and a chunked chip.

Raise your hand if you've done that before.


11:33 a.m. ET: A double-haiku? Count me in. From Bo in Philadelphia:

Former champ plays well.
Sixty-five is impressive.
Watson leads Open.

But can old man string
four good golf days together?
Tune in on Sunday.

And just so the limerick-ers don't feel left out, there's this from Logan in Atlanta:

The weather is ripe for a run,
When the rain comes it won't be fun,
Will Watson turn cold,
And show us he's old,
Or have another "Duel in the Sun"?

What? No Tom Watson theme song?

Leads to this from Ryan in Minneapolis:

Number of times Sobel mentions his theme song today: +/- 5.5

I'll take the over. In fact …

Theme song. Theme song. Theme song. Theme song. Theme song. Theme song.

So there.


11:29 a.m. ET: First John Daly reference of the day, but he's finally done something worth mentioning -- and yes, it's a good something.

With an eagle on No. 7, Daly is now at 2-under. Very Daly-like round so far. Here's the scorecard: bogey-par-birdie-birdie-bogey-par-eagle.

And yes, he's having a crazy round while wearing another one of those crazy outfits, too. Click here to see what he went with today.


11:23 a.m. ET: One more note on Tom Watson:

His 5-under 65 tied the lowest first round in the 128 majors he has played (also did this when he led the 2003 U.S. Open). This includes 32 British Opens, 35 Masters, 30 U.S. Opens, and 31 PGA Championships.

In all, Watson has posted eight scores of 65 in 443 career major championship rounds, with four of them coming at Turnberry.


11:20 a.m. ET: Keeping an eye on the BBC feed, which is always terrific, but I do need to make one point ...

For all those fans in the U.S. who complain about too much Tiger Woods coverage on PGA Tour telecasts, at least he's won 14 majors. Over here, barely a minute passes without flashing Rory McIlroy up on the screen. I wouldn't be surprised if every one of his shots has been shown live so far today.

That's a lot of coverage for a guy who owns one career professional victory.


11:08 a.m. ET: OK, golf fans. Complete this sentence: The second-highest-ranked player in this week's field is ...

If you guessed Paul Casey, you win.

With world No. 2 Phil Mickelson eschewing this event for personal reasons, Casey is ranked higher than everyone here at Turnberry besides Tiger Woods.

And he's playing like it, too. The Englishman just posted an eagle at No. 7 to move to 4-under. (He's since followed with a par on 8.)

After missing the cut in three straight events, including the U.S. Open, this is a welcome return to form for Casey.


10:57 a.m. ET: The votes have been tabulated and we have a winner.

From Eric in Durham, N.C.:

Tom Watson is so old ... he played the Old Course when it was new.

That's about 10 times better than my lame joke. But at least I have a theme song.


10:54 a.m. ET: In my pre-tournament rankings, I listed dark horse candidates Markus Brier, Robert Rock and Damien McGrane each in the top 25.

They're currently a combined 12-over-par.

You're welcome, fellas.


10:46 a.m. ET: Speaking of more random players, here's an e-mail from Eric in Parts Unknown with the subject header "Ocho Cinco Scare":

Jaco (no, not Jacko) Ahlers tried to post one up there for you today, didn't he?

A 13-over 83 for Jaco "Don't Call Me Jacko." That's only an Ocho Tres -- not quite as interesting to shoot a Lee Evans, is it?

And Jaco's score ranks as DFL so far with no one else having '80s flashbacks.


10:40 a.m. ET: I've gotta admit, even though I cover this sport full-time and get paid to know things like this, there are a handful of players in this week's field that I've never heard of before.

One of 'em is currently at 3-under on the final hole. His name is Branden Grace and, well, here's what I just found in his player bio:

• He's 21 years old, from Pretoria, South Africa.
• Comes from a golfing family, related to fellow pros Michiel Bothma and Darren Fichardt.
• Won the 2006 South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
• Finished 35th on last year's European Challenge Tour money list.
• Earned his Euro Tour card by finishing 28th at Q-school.
• Made the cut in nine of 14 starts this season, with a top finish of T-6 at the South African Open.


10:33 a.m. ET: Isn't this a tournament where big numbers are supposed to reign (in the rain)?

Well, it's not happening today.

Of the top 20 players on the leaderboard, only five -- Mark O'Meara, Sean O'Hair, Graeme McDowell, David Howell and Lee Westwood -- have carded a double-bogey in the opening round.


10:23 a.m. ET: E-mail from Scott in Brill, Wis.:

BOOOOOOOO!!! No mention of Boo Weekley toward the top??? I bet he won't tweet, has got the more beer part down, and eats Aleve like Skittles after riding the pony down the fairway. That's 3-for-3 on your prerequisites for Open Championship contention.

He's in the clubhouse with a 67, but Boo has some other things on his mind right now, too.

During last week's Scottish Open, the fisherman said he might "get his rod out and try and land Nessie," a reference to the Loch Ness Monster.

That's awesome. And you know what? He may actually try it.


10:19 a.m. ET: While most of the leaders are already in the clubhouse, it doesn't appear that playing conditions are getting any more difficult here in the afternoon.

There's a slight breeze coming through, which is more than the non existent wind of earlier this morning, but it's hardly enough to affect the pros too much.

You're never going to see a British Open venue play easier than Turnberry is right now.


10:11 a.m. ET: They're starting to pour in ...

From Rich in Pittsburgh:

Tom Watson is so old ... his first scorecard had Roman numerals on it.

From Brian in Raleigh, N.C.:

Tom Watson is so old ... he thinks Young Tom Morris is a teenager.

From Benjamin in Parts Unknown:

Tom Watson is so old ... he really can't remember the last time he played this well.

From Matt in Jacksonville:

Tom Watson is so old ... he can remember when Tiger closed out majors.

From Gilbert in Parts Unknown:

Tom Watson is so old ... he thinks your jokes are funny.

Wow, that one hurts. Might be true ... but it hurts.


10:04 a.m. ET: E-mail from Kerem in Istanbul (not Constantinople):

I realize we are missing some of the usual anchors of the live blog such as limericks, haikus, etc. I don't have those, but I do have some prop bets to start the festivities:

• Age difference between first and second place on the leaderboard at the end of the day: +/- 7.5
Total players 2 shots off the leader: +/- 10.5
Number of 80+ scores: +/-2.5

Done and done. And yes, there's a 95 percent chance I only posted that e-mail because it came from Istanbul.


9:56 a.m. ET: OK, one more on Old Tom Watson, who is seeking to become the oldest player to win the Open since Old Tom Morris. From Brooke in Wisconsin:

Tom Watson is so old ... he apparently assisted Alexander Graham Bell in coming up with something called the acoustic telegraph. When requesting an interview with Thomas Watson, you should call him on your cell and say: "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you."

Wow. That was, um, interesting. A for effort; D- for execution.

We can do better, folks. I'll start ...

Tom Watson is so old ... that he replaced a mashie this week in favor of a niblick.

And yeah, you can do better than that, too. (I hope.) Have at it.


9:53 a.m. ET: One more T-Dub note -- the original T-Dub, that is.

Interesting stuff from Tom Watson's interview session yesterday:

Question: Have you given any thought to how much longer you might play as a past champion?
Tom Watson: I'm restricted to age 60, which comes up in September, so I'll be playing St. Andrews. That will be my last Open Championship, unless I play well at St. Andrews or play well here and maybe have a sixth championship under my belt after Sunday. Now, that would be a story, wouldn't it?

Again, that's from yesterday, prior to the opening round. Don't think this is some "just happy to be here" type of guy. TW is intent on winning this thing.

Interesting note: If Watson was to win this week, I believe that next year's Open would still be his last, unless the R&A changed its current rules. As of right now, a past champion can't play past the age of 60. If Watson wins at 59, that doesn't necessarily mean he would be eligible at 61, unless some provisions were implemented. But he would still be eligible to play the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship with their 5-year exemptions that go to each year's winner.


9:48 a.m. ET: E-mail from Patrick in Philly:

AK's 9 = a ninny?

Done. Good call.

It also may have been a pain in the neck. He was just rubbing and stretching his neck, looks to be in obvious discomfort.


9:44 a.m. ET: Don't expect to be getting any updates from @TomWatson59 any time soon. From his post-round news conference:

Question: I'm not sure what's more impressive today, if it's your score or someone of your age can actually send text messages.
Tom Watson: Don't ask me to twit or tweet. I don't tweet.

OK, people: Less tweeting, more beer, more Aleve. Got that?


9:41 a.m. ET: What a difference a year -- and about 30 mph less wind -- makes.

In last year's opening round, co-leaders Robert Allenby, Graeme McDowell and Rocco Mediate each shot a 1-under 69.

In today's round, there are already 16 players in the clubhouse at 2-under or better and eight others currently on the course at that score.

Can someone turn on the fan around here?


9:37 a.m. ET: Earlier in the blog, I mentioned that Ian Poulter Twittered himself this morning.

A few years ago, I might have gotten fired for saying that.

Well, it's been mentioned that his outfit today matches the rug.

That sounds dirty, too. But it's not. It's true.


9:32 a.m. ET: Tweet, tweet ...

Some quick answers to quick questions:

ben_mcnamara@JasonSobel Who has the better shot at winning this weekend: Ryo Ishikawa or Rory McIlroy?

Rory. Not even close.

rugolik28@JasonSobel Jason, I'm still waiting for that treacherous first live blog jinx. You're slacking. Bigtime.

Here you go: Jeremy Kavanagh ... bogey right after being mentioned. It's alive!

jpole1@JasonSobel Can you please correct Brian in charlottesville to the fact that it's a sexy, not a sexty?

Duly noted.

zucko@JasonSobel "Tim in Gainesville"? Tebow reads the liveblog!

What? Like you expected him not to read it?


9:26 a.m. ET: What a dilemma. I don't want to leave the blog for even a minute ... but a hot carved salt beef bap sounds like a pretty appetizing lunch.

I'd pay a few pounds for a good bap right now.


9:20 a.m. ET: E-mail from Brian in Charlottesville, Va.:

We've had the sexty and the septy, so what is Anthony Kim's 9? Did he just manage to play himself out of the championship in two holes?

AK just posted a dreaded quinty on the second hole. When asked how it happened, my colleague Bob Harig just said, "He probably missed a putt for 8."

Dead solid perfect analysis right there.

As for being out of contention? No, I wouldn't say that, but Kim certainly has a lot of work to do.


9:16 a.m. ET: Here's what Tiger Woods had to say about his round of 1-over 71:

"I certainly made a few mistakes out there today. Realistically, I probably should have shot about 1- or 2-under-par today. But I made a few mistakes, and consequently I'm at 1-over," he said. "I hit a couple of shots to the right today, and three-ripped a hole from about 15 feet, and I didn't take advantage of 17. So there you have it."

Let's break down the numbers ...

• Driving accuracy: 57.1 percent (8 of 14)
• Greens in regulation: 66.7 percent (12 of 18)
• Total putts: 30

Still attempting to find a breakdown of clubs used off the 14 driving holes for Woods. If/when I get it, I'll let you know.


9:10 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods' legendary workout regimen notwithstanding, can we finally stop this fitness craze in professional golf?

John Daly and Angel Cabrera have each smoked -- and waddled -- their way to major championships and now 49-year-old Mark Calcavecchia is on the board at 3-under, despite back problems.

The secret to his success?

"If it had been some other tournament other than this one, I may have not come," he said. "But, you know, once I got done, I took a few more Aleve and a couple of beers and I was OK, got on the plane, and several more beers went flowing down. The next thing you know we were landing and I felt pretty good on Monday."

There you go, weekend warriors. Your game needs more Aleve and beer. You've obviously been lacking in these necessities previously -- or else you'd be on the British Open leaderboard right now, too!


9:02 a.m. ET: Seriously. There is a theme song. For the live blog.

I've either jumped the shark or that's the coolest thing ever. I'm voting for the latter.

Of course, there's always room for more. Which leads to this e-mail from previous Live Blog songwriter Craig in Parts Unknown, to be sung to the tune of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody":

Is this the jinx blog
Is this just fantasy
Caught in a pot bunker
Can't escape a +3

Open your eyes
Look up at the scoreboard and see
I'm just 100th in the world
I need no sympathy
Because it's easy putt
10 foot long
Does it break high
Does it break low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn't really matter to me
Can't birdie

Mama, just hit the sand
So deep can't see my head
So embarrassed my face is red
Mama, back 9's just begun
But now I've triple bogeyed and thrown it all away
Mama, FOOOOOOOOOOOOREEE
Didn't mean to hit that guy
If I'm not back again this time in 2 days
Carry on, Carry on, because I missed the cut


8:58 a.m. ET: After a pair of bogeys on 15 and 16, Tiger Woods finishes par-par to shoot a 1-over 71.

That's his first over-par opening total at the British Open since 2003, when he shot a 73 at Royal St. George's en route to a T-4 result.

On a day when scoring conditions were optimal, he has to be disappointed.

In fact, the most telling stat of his round may be that playing partners Lee Westwood and 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa each beat him by 3 shots.


8:43 a.m. ET: I always enjoy checking out some of the practice round pairings. The other day, David Duval teed it up with a guy listed as "T. Wood" on the board. No, it wasn't Tiger; it was Timothy Wood from Australia. Apparently, they left off the last "s" for "swing theory." I heard one official refer to Wood's swing as "the wounded seagull" while at the range yesterday.

Another interesting group was that of Tom Watson, Greg Norman and ... Jeremy Kavanagh.

Not sure how the 29-year-old South African Tour regular got himself into that mix, but the world's 1,204th-ranked player must have learned something. He's currently 3-under through seven holes, just two shots shy of the lead.


8:40 a.m. ET: E-mail from Dan in Parts Unknown:

Don't forget Sir Bob Charles, knighted in 1999.

I owe Dan a shiny pound. How many stamps to get something to "Parts Unknown"?


8:36 a.m. ET: Fun stuff from Tom Watson in his interview session with the gathered media just a few minutes ago:

"There's something slightly spiritual about today. ... I received a text, modern day text from Barbara Nicklaus. Barbara made the comment, she saw my caddie's picture and said he looked very good, tell him he looked very good. And she also wished me good luck. I texted her back and said, "You know, we really miss you over here." And I really meant it. It's not the same without Jack playing in the tournament."

If Pete Sampras can fly to the U.K. to watch Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, is it too much to ask for Jack to hop on his private jet and be here at Turnberry on Sunday if Watson is still in contention?


8:32 a.m. ET: Tweet, tweet ...

Dimonator@JasonSobel you should probably note on your blog that Tom Watson is a trending topic on Twitter

Done. He's right up there with Harry Potter and Michael Jackson. Good to see the world's tweeters acknowledging such an impressive feat.


8:28 a.m. ET: E-mail from Tim in Gainesville:

I am sitting in my 7-10 a.m. Open Economy Macroeconomics class, mostly just trying to survive till the break so I can get coffee. The prof randomly made a comment about golf and I chimed in that Tom Watson shot a 65 today. He says, "Oh, are you reading Sobel's blog? What's he up to?" We had a discussion. Played the theme song for the class. I love college, golf, and your blog.

There you go, folks. Our new motto. "The Live Blog: A safe, healthy alternative to educating today's undercaffeinated youth."


8:24 a.m. ET: Um, is that an alarm I hear?

More problems for Tiger Woods on 17. After driving it way right, he finishes his second shot with only one hand on the club, then watches as it buries in the deep stuff.

At this rate, he may be happy to get into the clubhouse at 1-over, let alone in the red or even.


8:22 a.m. ET: Shaping up to be a great leaderboard here in the early going.

Tom Watson is improbably in the lead, which is enough in itself that it wouldn't matter who's behind him.

In a share of second, though, are Camilo Villegas, Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink -- all really strong players -- and John Senden, who is always among the PGA Tour's best greens in regulation guys.

One stroke further back are former Open champs Mark O'Meara and Mark Calcavecchia, along with Vijay Singh and Matt Kuchar.


8:15 a.m. ET: At last month's U.S. Open, Tiger Woods played the final four holes of his opening round in 4-over-par. And wouldn't you know, he wound up finishing 4 strokes behind Lucas Glover.

Even with that recent history still fresh in his mind, Woods is coming home in similar fashion. He's gone bogey-bogey on 15 and 16 to drop to 1-over for the day.

If he bogeys the upcoming par-5 17th, sound the alarm.


8:06 a.m. ET: Sorry, too late. It was Sir Henry Cotton.

Like Sir Nick, he also won three British Open titles.


8:05 a.m. ET: E-mail from Steve in Parts Unknown:

I don't know if he'll end up doing enough to earn mention in the blog this week, but Nick Faldo is a few holes in and if some of these champions from way back can make some noise, maybe he can, too. The leaderboard refers to him as "Faldo, Sir Nick." Will you be following suit?

Absolutely. Sir Nick was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list last month, so that's what I'll call him.

"I am more than a little humbled to have been afforded this great honor," he said at the time. "It has come as a real surprise and the reaction from my children, family and friends has made this a very special moment for me. To stand alongside such esteemed company is incredible."

A shiny pound to anyone who can name the only other golfer in history to receive knighthood.


8:01 a.m. ET: Tom Watson was just interviewed on the BBC. A few highlights ...

On his round: "Obviously, I enjoyed it. Played very well, kept the ball in play."

On returning to Turnberry: "I don't live in the past, but it certainly is at the forefront of a lot of conversations this week. It's just amazing that a lot of the kids playing in the tournament this week were not born in 1977."

On his opening-round total: "I suspect by the end of the day 65 will not be the best score."


7:56 a.m. ET: Bad news for Tiger Woods: He continues to look extraordinarily ordinary from the 12-foot range on the greens.

Worse news: The one he just missed was for par, not birdie.

That leads to a bogey on 15 for Woods, who drops to even-par with three holes to play.


7:47 a.m. ET: I've been scooped.

Had this photo of Ian Poulter in his opening-round duds ready to go before his 1:53 local tee time, but the player himself decided to wake up this morning and Twitter himself (that only sounds dirty; it's really not) ...

@Ianjamespoulter http://twitpic.com/aix78 - My outfit for the Open today, you've seen it here first on twitter.

I was tipped off a few days ago that his Thursday wardrobe would put the Claret Jug and Union Jack trousers of past Open appearances to shame and, well, he hardly disappoints.


7:38 a.m. ET: Interesting finish -- to say the least -- from my pre-tournament pick to win, Sergio Garcia.

Garcia closed birdie-double-birdie-bogey, finally stopping the roller-coaster with a wild even-par 70.

Either he feels like he should have shot 65 and let it get away from him or 75 and got away with it. I'm not sure which.

Speaking of my predictions, I've received a few e-mails like this one, from Paul in Los Angeles:

Ok so you did it again, you picked Tiger to finish 6th in a major because he is only 4 of 23 in majors which he hasn't played the course. When your top 5 are 0 for way more than that in the British Open and collectively have 1 major between the group. You look like an idiot whenever you do this, and your going to really look like a moron if he wins this weekend, which I bet he will. ... If Tiger wins this weekend you need to write a full article apologizing for your stupidity.

No, I don't -- and it's for the same reason I didn't need to write an "I told you so" article when I predicted that he wouldn't win the U.S. Open last month. Placing Woods at No. 6 on the list doesn't mean I think he can't win; it simply means I think he'll finish in sixth. Simple as that.

I've also had some readers take offense to the fact that I referenced Tiger's record of 4-for-23 on non-Masters major venues that he hasn't played competitively before as a poor mark. It's not at all. But it does pale in comparison to his ridiculous 6-for-12 number on courses where he has played tournaments in the past.

As for Turnberry, he never even saw this place in person until six days ago.

Woods just made a nice par save on 14 to remain at 1-under.


7:36 a.m. ET: Tom Watson holes a 5-footer for par on the final hole and he's the new clubhouse leader with a brilliant 5-under 65.

Incredible round. Incredible story.

One year after Greg Norman made an unlikely run up the leaderboard at Royal Birkdale, I think a similar result from Watson would be a much bigger story -- especially here at Turnberry.


7:28 a.m. ET: In exactly 50 days, Tom Watson will turn 60 years old.

Here's a note from ESPN stat guru David Bearman:

The oldest first-round leader in a major was Sam Snead who led Round 1 of the 1966 PGA Championship at 54. The oldest to lead a first round at the Open Championship was Raymond Floyd (49) in 1992.

I know you can't compare golf to other sports, but ...

Other athletes born in 1949 include Dusty Baker and Oscar Gamble in baseball; Joe Theismann and Dan Pastorini in football; and my dad, who still struggles to break 100.

None of them could compete at this level right now (or, in my dad's case, ever), which sort of puts Watson's round into a little perspective.


7:26 a.m. ET: Um, did I mention the Live Blog has its own theme song?

OK, just checking ...


7:21 a.m. ET: Birdie for TW!

No, not that TW; I'm talking about Tom Watson, who just made a 4 on the par-5 17th to grab sole possession of the lead at 5-under.

As @danjenkinsgd termed it on Twitter, this is becoming the "Duel in the Calm."

In case you're wondering, here are Watson's results so far this year: T-15, T-22, T-47, T-11, 4th.

Not bad ... until you realize those each came on the Champions Tour against the 50-and-over dudes.


7:12 a.m. ET: Two whole blog entries without mentioning Tiger Woods' name? That might be a record or something ...

He's currently 1-under through 12 holes with three birdies and two bogeys. Could be better -- much like at the U.S. Open, he's missed a few 10- to 12-foot putts -- but "the other TW" (just kidding) has also gotten away with a few poor shots, including an approach on No. 8 on which his club got stuck and he hit a low burner into the tall stuff, only to get up and down for par.

He's taken a very conservative approach to opening rounds in majors for a long time now -- I'll save the heavyweight-boxer-throwing-jabs-analogy for another time -- and this seems to fall in line. Haven't yet seen him hit a driver off the tee (though he may have). He's hit 6-of-9 fairways and 10-of-12 greens in regulation.


7:09 a.m. ET: I spent yesterday afternoon playing golf -- well, searching for my golf ball -- with colleagues at nearby Prestwick-St. Nicholas, which has only been around in its current form since 1892. There was about a three-club wind out there, which was nice. Wouldn't want this game to get too easy or anything.

Nice of Mother Nature to throw some breezy stuff at us hacks, but take it easy on the pros here at Turnberry. So far we've had perfect conditions -- not a drop of rain and barely any wind this morning.

"I hate to say Turnberry was easy, because it's a really hard course," said Mark Calcavecchia, "But if you're going to shoot a good score out there, today was the day to do it."

With 84 players having completed at least one hole, there are 21 -- exactly one-quarter -- who are currently under par and another 21 at even-par for the round.

Remember the old adage: You can't win a major on Thursday, but you can certainly lose it. With optimum scoring conditions, players need to avoid falling behind too early today.


7 a.m. ET: Aye! Welcome to the Home of Goff. I'm live in Scotland at Turnberry's Ailsa Course where the opening round of the 138th Open Championship is already well under way.

This is truly a place where time seems to have stood still -- and it's apparent on the leaderboard, too. A mere 32 years after defeating Jack Nicklaus on this very course in the famed "Duel in the Sun," 59-year-old Tom Watson is currently tied for the lead at 4-under-par through 16 holes (with John Senden and David Howell). In related news, my fellow golf writers are feverishly working to ink their next book deal.

Since you're already wondering, the oldest major winner in history was Julius Boros at 48 and the oldest Open champ was Old Tom Morris at 46. Perhaps Old Tom Watson will top each of those lists by Sunday evening.

But it's not just TW -- hey, those were his initials before the reigning No. 1-ranked player -- who is turning back the clock. Former Open champions Mark Calcavecchia (1989) and Mark O'Meara (1998) each shot a 3-under 67 earlier today.

(Meanwhile, last year's sentimental story, Greg Norman, is currently DFL -- dead freakin' last -- at 9-over through 16 holes.)

Big news in Live Blog history today. Thanks to the band Far Beyond Frail, we now have a theme song. That's right. Crank the speakers. Press play over and over again. And listen along as I'll be your guide throughout Thursday's opening round and the remainder of the Open.

Lots of action already on the course, so let's get going. As always, you can send your questions, comments, suggestions, poetry and -- yes -- theme songs to britishopenblog@gmail.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.