Date: July 16, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes @ St Andrews

Score early, then hang on

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The tale of the Old Course could well be that of the two nines – just ask Rod Pampling and Matt Jones.

And don’t forget early leader David Lingmerth, whose record-equalling outward 29 was scythed down by an inward 40 as his Swedish flag ran rapid fire up and down the leaderboard.

The Aussies’ plight wasn’t quite as stark, but the difference between Jones’ inward 33 and Pampling’s homebound 41 tells their respective first-round Open Championship stories, too.

Jones began well without being spectacular until a “chunked” sand wedge on his approach to the seventh green cost him a bogey that dropped him to one under.

But then, true to his pre-Open claims that his game was in solid shape, the Sydneysider hung tough into the wind on the way home and played a flawless back nine to charge up to four under the card.

“I played great, to get off to a start like that in my second British Open especially on this golf course … I’m very happy,” Jones said.

“I played smart out there, kept it out of trouble, gave myself birdie chances and made a nice one on the last.

“You never know what’s going to happen on the back nine, it’s going to be a little harder than the front nine.

“There’s more scoring holes on the front nine. But I’m happy with four under.”

Jones singled out the notorious Road Hole, the long par-four 17th, as the one to watch again this week.

Pampling, who struck the first blow of the 144th Open Championship at 6.32am local time, couldn’t buy a putt early, but when he finally made a birdie after 10 straight pars to begin, his one-under tally looked solid enough.

But a tough lie on the 13th prompted a double-bogey and then four following bogeys in succession took all the gloss of his early hard work and landed him with a five-over-par 77.

“It was going good, then I got into semi-rough which is pretty tough with the wet weather they’ve had (in Scotland this spring) on 13,” Pampling lamented.

“Then I got a bit unlucky, had a horse-shoe (on my bogey putt) and then it was just one of those things coming in.

“It wasn’t bad play, but it’s just link golf – you can get yourself in bad spots and it was a bit of a bad stretch.”

The Queenslander admitted his frustration at not being able to capitalise on his early fine ball-striking with a flat stick that had previously been running hot.

“I just couldn’t make a one-putt. I’ve been putting so well … but for whatever reason I just didn’t have anything going on the greens,” he said.

“Then coming in I hit the hole three times amongst that bogey run.”

Pampling was happy enough with his form, but said he’d use the early mark to do some sightseeing with wife Angela given the 10-plus hours of daylight left after his round.