Big hitters veered off course as Cameron Tringale solidifies lead at The Renaissance
It WAS so loud at the Renaissance that the Genesis Scottish Open could have been sponsored by the Beaufort Scale. For hardened local golfers, of course, the wind sweeping the courses would be casually swept away like nothing more than a strong breeze. Meanwhile, some big names in the global game were sidelined as the East Lothian exodus featured one or two marquee names. It had been a sair fecht.
Collin Morikawa, who will defend his Open title at St Andrews next week, world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, the runner-up in the last two majors, all left with a total of five over while Justin Thomas pulled away with a 10- on the count. As for LIV Golf rebel Ian Poulter? Well, after winning a legal action against a championship suspension, he only lasted 36 holes after also racking up a total of 10 more. Maybe he could ask the lawyers to overturn his missed cut?
At the end of the business Cameron Tringale, who got through his first round in just 61 shots to set a blistering pace, demanded 72 clicks yesterday but it was still good enough to earn a three shot lead over Doug Ghim and Gary Woodland on seven pennies.
At one point in his turn, after a few early birdies, Tringale was briefly six from the field, but then the wheels started to shoogle as he started to back up to such an extent that you half expected him let him start making one. “beep beep” warns that a truck is sounding when backing into a yard. Four bogeys in a row gave the chasing pack hope, but Tringale was able to stop the bleeding and limit the damage on a day when it was easy to make a good hash of things.
“It was definitely harder for me today,” Tringale said of the various tests he encountered during a dreaded tremor. “In the first round it looked pretty easy, and today it looked like every hole was hard to do. I’m just happy to be done.
Amidst the various works and troubles, there were strong displays of defiance. Xander Schauffele, the Olympic champion, exploited the conditions to good effect and emerged with a best of the day five under 65 to move to three under. A 15-foot 8-iron on his first hole of the day – the 10 – launched an eagle which he gobbled up. “It was a bonus,” he said of the flying start.
Matt Fitzpatrick was also flying. Indeed, the new US Open champion looked set to improve on Schaufelle’s effort after covering 13 holes in a brilliant six under only to bug his final two holes. The Sheffield man wasn’t complaining about a 66, however, which pushed him back into the three-under race.
Fitzpatrick, who lost in a championship play-off last year, started with a 71 in the fight Thursday, which was an admirable effort given that the last starters of the first round experienced the most difficult conditions and that the score was more than three strokes higher when the cards were returned. from the start of the draw.
The luck of this draw is an integral part of the game of links, so you just have to get on with it. Fitzpatrick certainly did as he maintained the terrific form he showed in a campaign in which his worst result when he made the cut is tied for 14th. “I believe in myself, I believe I can continue to play well,” he said of that useful and profitable streak. “It’s either top 15 or I missed the cut and if that’s the case for the rest of the year I’d gladly take it.”
The Yorkshireman has a Claret Jug in sight next week but, for now, his eyes are firmly set on Scottish Open glory. He would be a popular champion. “I had so much support with people saying ‘congrats’ and ‘keep it up’ as I walked the tees and greens,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was really nice to be there.”
It was really nice also for the Englishman Jordan Smith and his caddie, Sam Matton. En route to a 69 that earned him a share of fourth on three under, Smith hole-in-one on 17 and won a new Genesis car for himself and one for his bagman.
Smith’s 6-iron landed about 20 feet from the pin, but rolled downhill and dug into the hole, setting off some wild scenes. “We couldn’t see it but the crowd went crazy,” he said
Smith and Matton traveled to East Lothian in their own cars. “We already have two cars here, we might have to send the news back one way or another,” he said of the shiny new additions to the duo’s driveways.
It’s a nice problem to have.