I THOUGHT Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive, answered critics of Muirfield’s pin positions perfectly and I agreed with every word he said.
A tough set-up is the organisers’ last defence when the course is playing easily, and you could not have wished for better conditions than yesterday.
Mickelson three-putted for a bogey at 18 despite a beauty of an approach to the back of the green, but on the other hand you could argue that perhaps he should have hit to the front edge instead.
This Open was always going to be about strategy, and the course will reward those players who have studied it closely and done their homework.
Leader Zach Johnson is a man in form, having only been beaten in a play-off at last week’s John Deere Classic, and has all it takes to be a strong contender.
The American has a low ball flight, which is ideal for blustery links courses such as this, and is a previous Major winner, so knows how to close it out.
The first two days are about jockeying for position. Tee-times can make a huge difference at this event because there is a vast gap between first and last out, and the weather can change significantly.
Johnson was lucky to tee off early yesterday and it’ll be interesting to see whether Tiger Woods can take advantage of a morning start today and close the gap.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam
What the Open means to me by Tony Jacklin
“The Open is where it all begins. The history of the game is very important to me and you look at those old photographs and just feel how special the championship is.”