Date: July 17, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes, St Andrews

Bland, Chalmers take different routes

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Putting, as golf’s ageless idiom goes, is for dough.

If so, Adam Bland might soon have to hit up Greg Chalmers for a loan.

South Australian Bland, making his second Open appearance after a nine-year absence, struck the ball brilliantly today and signed for a 75 after 34 putts.

West Australian Chalmers, a 10-time major championship player, battled off the tee and signed for a 70 with 27 putts.

The difference could not have been more stark, nor more frustrating to Bland who bemoaned his inability to cash in on a string of golden chances.

“I wasn’t overawed by the occasion at all. I played great and could very easily have had two or three under,” said Bland, whose only real blemish was an unlucky double-bogey on the fourth hole where he compounded an errant drive with a second shot that deposited the ball into a gorse bush from which a penalty drop was required.

“I reckon I had 10 chances inside 15 feet and in the end I’d holed just one of them.

“If I’d putted well it would have been a lot different – I just couldn’t get it in the hole.

“So that gives me hope and positivity for tomorrow.

“If I can play the same way but putt better and not have that double, I know I can compete here.

“It’s a good learning experience, but it’s just that it’s frustrating when it could easily have been so much better.”

Chalmers was the polar opposite despite dropped shots at the 15th and brutal 17th holes.

“I was thrilled to be four under with scores to be made going out, but as you come back in, the pins got a lot harder, the wind’s into your face and we were playing the 17th as a par five it was that tough.

“But I was really uncomfortable with my driver. I drove it nicely the last two weeks, but for some reason I went out and practised eight holes yesterday and drove it off the map and lost confidence in it.

“That’s sort of how my year has been – I’ve had bits of it be good, but not all be good at once.

“Today I putted really nicely, hit some nice wedges and iron shots, so hopefully if I can get the driver sorted out we can do something pretty good.

“I wasn’t set up with my putter for almost a month – I had my eyes too far inside the ball – but now I’ve really fixed that and things are looking up.

“It feels really good, even the ones I missed today hit the edge of the hole and that’s kind of cool.

“When I start doing things like that, putts will go in . I just have to make sure I drive it on the fairway tomorrow and we’ll go all right.”

Bland was similarly in trouble on the 17th, using driver-driver into the wind, but still requiring a lob wedge to get to the green for his third.

“It would be hard enough to hit it with a 9-iron, let alone a driver. It’s pretty brutal,” Bland joked.

The famous Road Hole did not yield a birdie to the 156-strong field today.