Sitting all day watching the 2023 Open Championship on TV can be trying, though not as hard as standing or sitting all day at the Royal Liverpool course with the breezy conditions, but it’s great listening to NBC’s golf commentators.
Sir Nick Faldo, who tearfully retired from the broadcast booth last year after 16 years as CBS’ lead analyst, has come out of hibernation to work for NBC this week. During his time with CBS, he easily established himself as the pre-eminent golf analyst in the world. He never shied away from saying something controversial, even if meant chaffing golfers or golf fans. But he earned credibility by winning so many events, including three Open Championships. He is the last Englishman to have done it in 1992.
He had a gem on Friday, questioning some of the shots of amateur Christo Lamprecht (Titleist Pro V1), who tied for the lead after the opening day at five-under par. But a day later, the 6-foot-8, 22-year-old was struggling off the tee, bogeying five holes on the front nine. After his third bogey on the first four holes, Faldo questioned his shot selection.
“What is he thinking? My goodness,” said Faldo. “He probably can’t to 10 backwards right now.”
Lamprecht shot eight-over par on Friday and finished at three-over par to barely make the cut.
Meanwhile, the afternoon crew had a few gems, especially when Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (TP5x) birdied the 10
“Get in there and it does,” gushed Dan Hicks as the ball trickled toward the hole. “The fan base has been waiting all day for those birdies to drop and it does.”
“What a putt! He needs a long-range just like that to get him going,” said Paul Azinger. “He has missed a few of those medium rangers from eight to 10 to 12 feet for birdie.”
And after Antoine Rozner (Titleist Pro V1x) hit his tee shot on the sixth hole, it landed on the green, forced a bird standing there to scoot away and subsequently did a circle around a bunker. It then travelled downward on the opposite side before stopping.
“Is this one of the longest rides ever to a bunker?” Hicks said. “No. It just napped on the down slope.”
“You just never know which little hump or mound or nook or cranny you’ve got to catch,” said Azinger.
CBS certainly wouldn’t mind if Fleetwood is in contention. It’s good for ratings and the crowd. He sits second at five-under par.
Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) is also in the thick of it, which is also good for TV. He came into the tournament as the favorite after winning the Scottish Open and playing on the same course in which he won the Open Championship in 2014.
The wind, coupled with the pot bunkers, has been trying. And who knows what will happen if rain arrives for the weekend.
Everyone in the field is chasing Brian Harman (Titleist Pro V1). The lefty had a round of six-under par to take the lead at 10-under par and just might be too far in front to catch. Harman came into the tournament ranked 28
THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x), who is going through a season in hell, shot even-par on Friday a day after finishing 11-over par with the worst round of his career in a major tournament. He wasn’t the only notable player to be humbled by the course. Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x) finished at 13-over par on Friday following a 10-over par round, one of the worst of the day. I’m guessing that was also his worst round in a major.
They were not the only players who have won majors in their careers to be sent packing. Some of the others included defending champion Cameron Smith (Titleist Pro V1x), Justin Rose (TaylorMade TP5), Francesco Molinari (Titleist Pro V1x), Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5), Keegan Bradley (Srixon Z-Star), Charl Schwartzel (Clear), Darren Clarke (Titleist Pro V1x), Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) and John Daly (Titleist Pro V1x).
I was surprised Daly was actually in the field, though he was eligible having won the event in 1995. He’s 57 years old, playing against younger competitors who weren’t even born during his heyday in the 90s.