ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – LIFE Golfers lurked in the rankings after the first round of the British Open in St. Andrews on Thursday.
Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood and Talor Gooch were 4-under, four shots behind leader Cameron Young. Bryson DeChambeau was 3-under just like Ian Poulter.
Things got tough between Westwood and a reporter as Westwood blamed the media for “heating up” the tension between LIV Golf players and non-LIV players.
“I think the media is inciting it and doing as much as they can to help it,” Westwood said. “I think the general public just wants to go out and see good golf, no matter where it is played or who plays it.”
When there was a backlash from a reporter about it, Westwood said, “We could stand here arguing all day, but… I’ve talked to many [non-LIV players] and there is no enmity between the players. Yet the story is written that there is. Yes, you create problems where there are none. That’s how you want to be, fine. ”
Tensions rose when a reporter suggested that R&A would not be happy to see a player from LIV Golf win this week.
“Who told you that, [R&A CEO] Martin Slumbers? ” Said Westwood. “Did he tell you that R&A would not be happy? Did he say that?”
When the reporter said, “No,” Westwood said, “Well, you just figured it out, okay. So we don ‘t have to have that conversation, do we? , who hold the trophy high on Sunday night because they want to play the best. And that’s what R&A wants from this championship. They want the best player to win, no matter what Tour they play on. ”
Poulter, meanwhile, disputed reports that he was hardened by spectators for his alliance with the Saudi-backed tour.
“I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest,” Poulter said. ‘The only thing I heard was clapping. I have not heard a single crochet. For three weeks I have heard nothing. Not one noise. You can write whatever you want about being hardened and buoyant. You have gone 18 holes. Did you hear one comment? ”
Despite the divide between the players who have taken the Saudi money and the players who support the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, Poulter said his relationship with non-LIV players has not changed.
“We may have a difference of opinion, but they are my friends,” Poulter said. “We have all opinions, don’t we? We’re still friends, no matter what the landscape is or wherever you play golf.”
Asked about his reaction to the strong way Slumbers condemned the players who have gone to play for LIV Golf, Poulter said: “I have deliberately not looked at all. I do not want to know. You can tell me, [but] I do not want to listen. I’m here to play golf. This could probably be my last open championship at St. Andrews, so I try to enjoy it despite the questions. I’m staying out of the way. ”
DeChambeau said he “respects everyone’s opinions” but added: “This is a big championship. I go into it with a mindset that I am focused on trying to win this golf tournament. So it has not been in my I’ve been focused on competing and doing my best out here. ”
Phil Mickelson made up for lost time with Australian Lucas Herbert, with whom he was paired on Thursday. As the two stood on the 15th tee, Herbert Mickelson gave a desert to be blown away when he asked him for an autograph when he was a teenage flag bearer at the 2011 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
“I had a laugh with Phil today,” Herbert said. “I reminded him that I hated him for 11 years because he did not write an autograph for me. He was very apologetic and played along. It was quite funny.”
Mickelson said: “Yes, I gave him one today. It was 11 years late. We had a good laugh.”
Barclay Brown, an amateur from England, shot a 4-under 68 and stood just four shots from the lead.
“I was incredibly nervous at first,” he said. “So when I got through the first few holes, yeah, it was nice to calm down a bit and hit some good punches and just get into it.”
One of the more exciting relationships on Thursday was John Daly with DeChambeau.
“It was fun just to see the power he has,” said Daly, who used to be one of the longest strikers in the game. “He beats his 4-iron 280, 290 [yards] of the fee. It’s fun to watch. Nice kid. I love watching him play. It’s really cool. ”