SANDWICH, England — Jordan Spieth rolled in putts like it was 2017. Louis Oosthuizen put those runner-up finishes in the last two majors out of mind and soared to the top of the leaderboard.
They gave The 149th Open Championship a familiar feel on Thursday.
The roars and cheers of the biggest golf crowd since the pandemic rumbled around this quirky course off Sandwich Bay, just like pre-COVID times.
For Spieth, that was as welcome as being an Open contender once again.
“It feels inside the ropes, from the first tee forward, the most normal of any tournament we have played thus far relative to that same tournament in previous years,” Spieth said.
His 5-under 65 certainly turned back time to four years ago when he lifted the claret jug at Royal Birkdale — the last English venue to host The 149th Open — when he was hitting the ball better than he ever has.
Spieth was a shot off the lead held by Oosthuizen, who saved par from a fairway bunker on No. 18 for a 6-under 64. That tied the lowest opening round at Royal St. George’s, previously set by Christy O’Connor Jr. in 1981.
That didn’t look as though it would be the case after the South African opened with seven straight pars. He followed with six birdies in his next nine holes.
“I’ve learnt over the years playing major championships that patience is the key thing,” said Oosthuizen, who hasn’t won one of them since The Open at St. Andrews in 2010. There have been six runner-up finishes in the majors since then, including in the last two.
Oosthuizen and Spieth were among the morning starters who enjoyed the best of the conditions, notably soft bounces on the most undulating fairways and greens on the Open rotation.
Yet many of the world’s best couldn’t take advantage.
Patience already might be wearing thin for U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, who slapped his thigh in frustration after making a double-bogey at No. 9, where he took two shots to get out of a pot bunker in the fairway. He shot 71, like Bryson DeChambeau, who spent much of his first round up to his knees in deep grass after being unable to use his power to overwhelm Royal St. George’s.
Shane Lowry, the winner in 2019, also shot 71 in front of a crowd that has a daily capacity of 32,000 this week. Not since Royal Portrush, where Lowry won, has any golf tournament seen so many spectators through the gates.
With last year’s event canceled because of the pandemic, Lowry could finally be announced at an Open as the reigning champion golfer.
“It was a very special day for me,” he said.
Not so for the majority of the afternoon starters, who encountered more prolonged gusts off the English Channel and slightly drier conditions.
Rory McIlroy birdied the last to salvage a 70 in his bid for his first major title in seven years. Justin Thomas shot 72. Phil Mickelson shot 80, his highest start ever in The 149th Open, that left him tied for last place.
Benjamin Hebert and Webb Simpson, with rounds of 66 that tied them for fourth place with three others, had the best scores from the afternoon. Former PGA champion Collin Morikawa, in his first links test, and English favorite Tommy Fleetwood were at 67.
Fleetwood would like nothing more than to become the first Englishman with his name on that silver jug since Nick Faldo in 1992.
“It’s been a long time since an Englishman has won the Open, and I would love to be the next one. So we’ll see,” Fleetwood said.
Brian Harman was tied for second with Spieth after making five birdies in his first eight holes and finishing with a 65. Top-ranked Dustin Johnson hit 14 greens in regulation and said he was pleased with his round of 68 that had him in a tie for 19th.
Spieth had not won since Birkdale until he ended his slump at the Valero Texas Open in April. He looked the happiest of anyone Thursday, saying he liked where his game was at after matching his lowest score at an Open. He also had a 65 on the first day at Birkdale.
And he made reference to that victory while running off four straight birdies starting at No. 5, telling former caddie John Wood — part of the U.S. broadcast team — that it was just like 2017 the way he was making putts and Wood was watching him. Wood was caddying in the final round at Birkdale for Matt Kuchar, who was second.
“Here I feel for the first time since then I’m at least coming in with a bit of form, a bit of confidence, and really my start lines off the tee,” Spieth said.
It was only Oosthuizen ahead of him. And that was no real shock, considering the South African was tied for the lead in the first and third rounds at last month’s U.S. Open and in the second round at the PGA Championship in May.
The return of the spectators made it feel like a proper Open, especially on the hill overlooking the par-3 6th hole that attracted some of the biggest galleries of a day that started with a blue, cloudless sky.
Just before midday, the group containing Stewart Cink, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer all hit tee shots inside 6 feet of the pin. As they walked onto the green, one spectator shouted: “You three should be professionals.”
To which Kaymer’s caddie, Craig Connolly, replied back across the green: “You should be a comedian.”
“I feel like the fans here are very knowledgeable about the sport,” Spieth said, “and they’re also having a great time.”
Olympian Laurel Hubbard says not a transgender icon but an athlete, plans to retire – CTV News
The first openly transgender Olympian said on Tuesday she would retire from weightlifting and felt her landmark appearance at the Tokyo Games should be fast forgotten as sport takes greater strides to be more inclusive.
New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, 43, said she had never sought publicity, nor regards herself a role model or trailblazer, but just wants to be treated like any other athlete on sport’s biggest stage.
“I don’t think it should be historic. I think as we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realize that people like me are just people,” Hubbard said of her participation in Tokyo, which was among the most contentious issues ahead of the Olympics.
“We are human and, as such, I hope that just being here is enough,” she said in a rare interview with international media.
“All I have ever wanted as an athlete is to be regarded as an athlete.”
The soft-spoken, media-shy Hubbard made an unexpected early exit on Monday, eliminated 10 minutes into her +87kg contest after failures in her opening three lifts.
Hubbard, who was born male and transitioned eight years ago, competed in Tokyo under the rules of a 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) consensus on trans athletes. The IOC is currently reviewing those guidelines.
Her participation has stoked a huge debate on whether being more inclusive towards transgender women athletes means disadvantaging those born as women.
The IOC’s critics argue transgender athletes have an edge in skeletal and muscular development from being born male and say rules allowing trans athletes to contest women’s events could be abused by countries seeking to win more Olympic medals.
Advocates for trans athletes dismiss that as extremely unlikely, saying hormone therapy during transition negates perceived performance advantages.
Hubbard, who was twice the age of her competitors, said she was considering retiring because age had caught up with her and weightlifting had taken a physical toll.
“What I hope is, if I am in a position to look back, that this will just be a small part of history, just a small step,” Hubbard said.
“I really hope that with time, any significance to this occasion is diminished by things to come.”
She said she was no icon for trans athletes.
“I hope that just by being here, I can provide some sense of encouragement,” she said.
“I just hope that different people who are undergoing any difficulty or struggle … that they can perhaps see that there are opportunities in the world. There are opportunities to live authentically, and as we are.”
Save Women’s Sport Australasia, which has urged more scientific study and regulations on transgender athletes, said the IOC had been rash in determining that biological males who identify as women could compete in women’s sports.
“It feels quite wrong that New Zealander Laurel Hubbard has borne the brunt of what is quite obviously a flawed policy,” it said in a statement.
Hubbard applauded the IOC for being courageous but agreed more conversation and studies were necessary.
She believes the negative attention on her was based on emotion rather than principles and that people were reacting out of fear.
“I tried not to dwell on negative coverage or perception because it makes a hard job even harder,” she said.
“It’s hard enough lifting a barbell. But if you’re putting more weight on it, it makes it an impossible task really.”
Tokyo Olympics Day 11 Review: Andre De Grasse sets scorching pace in men's 200m – Yahoo Canada Sports
The majority of action during the Tokyo Olympics happens when most Canadians are fast asleep. While you were cozy in your bed, however, members of Team Canada were making their push for the podium.
Here’s what you missed from Day 10 of the Summer Games:
Women’s K1 200m Canoe Sprint: Andreanne Langlois qualifies for Final A
Rowing to a time of 39.952 seconds, Langlois claimed third place in Semifinal 2 to earn a lane in Final A. Fellow Canadian Michelle Russell finished with a time of 40.224 seconds, but she placed seventh in Semifinal 2 and raced in Final B.
In Final A, Langlois finished ninth with a time of 40.473 seconds.
Men’s C2 1000m Canoe Sprint: Roland Varga and Connor Fitzpatrick secure lane in Final A
The Canadian duo of Varga and Fitzpatrick captured a spot in Final A after finishing third in Semifinal 2 with a time of 3:27.145.
In Final A, Varga and Fitzpatrick placed sixth with a time of 3:30.157.
Women’s 400m: Kyra Constantine earns spot in semifinal
Finishing 21st overall in Round 1 with a time of 51.69 seconds, Constantine was the lone Canadian to advance to the semis. Country-mate Natassha McDonald placed 36th with a time of 53.54 seconds and did not advance.
Men’s 200m: Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown will race for gold
After both Canadians advanced from Round 1, De Grasse and Brown finished first (19.73 seconds) and third (19.99 seconds), respectively, in the semifinal to earn a lane in the final with an opportunity to win the gold medal.
The men’s 200m final is set to take place on Wednesday, August 4 at 8:55 AM EDT.
Women’s Team Pursuit Cycling: Canada finishes fourth in bronze final
Racing with the United States, Canada timed in at 4:10.552, which just put them off the podium with a fourth-place finish.
The U.S. won bronze, Great Britain secured silver, and Germany captured gold.
Women’s Beam Gymnastics: Elsabeth Black narrowly misses podium
Totalling 13.866 in the final, Black finished fourth in the event.
Simone Biles of the U.S. earned bronze with a score of 14.000. Tang Xijing of China won silver with a score of 14.233, and China’s Guan Chenchen claimed gold with a score of 14.633.
Men’s 5000m: Justyn Knight and Mohammed Ahmed advance from Round 1
Knight finished with a time of 13:30.22 to place third while Ahmed raced to a time of 13:38.96 to finish 13th. Both competitors advanced to the next race.
Fellow Canadian Lucas Bruchet finished 27th with a time of 13:44.08, but he did not qualify.
Women’s Duet Artistic Swimming: Claudia Holzner and Jacqueline Simoneau qualify for final
Earning a combined score of 182.7131 in the duet free routine and technical routine, Holzner and Simoneau finished fifth in the preliminary round to advance to the duet free routine final.
Women’s Hammer Throw: Camryn Rogers finishes fifth in final
Throwing an impressive distance of 74.35m, Rogers finished fifth in the final.
Poland’s Malwina Kopron captured bronze with a distance of 75.49m, China’s Wang Zheng nabbed silver with a distance of 77.03m, while Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland scored gold with a distance of 78.48m.
Women’s Beach Volleyball: Both Canadian squads ousted in quarterfinals
The defending world champions, Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, were upset in the quarters in three sets by Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar. The Canadian pair settles for fifth place in Tokyo.
Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson were also eliminated from medal contention on Tuesday, falling to Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in three sets.
When it comes to athletic accomplishments at the Olympics, none may be better than what we saw from Warholm on Day 11.
The Norwegian star completed the 400m hurdles in 45.94 seconds, absolutely demolishing his own previous world record of 46.70 seconds.
It’s truly an incredible accomplishment, especially when you consider the fastest time of any runner in the 400m semifinal with no hurdles was 43.88 seconds at these Olympics.
Equally impressive to his race was his celebration, as Warholm was absolutely wired.
That’s a gold medal celebration.
How many medals has Canada won in the Summer Olympics?
Canada has 14 medals in Tokyo heading into Day 12.
Bronze: Jessica Klimkait (judo, women’s under-57 kg), Softball, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (judo, women’s 63kg), Penny Oleksiak (women’s 200m freestyle), Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens (women’s pair rowing), Women’s 4×100 medley relay, Andre De Grasse (men’s 100m)
More from Yahoo Sports
Olympic wake-up call: Simone Biles, Ellie Black inspire on beam, kayaker wins 2 gold in 1 hour – CBC.ca
In a highly anticipated balance beam final, gymnast Simone Biles of the United States won a bronze medal Tuesday, while Canada’s Ellie Black finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Both women were inspiring on the beam and throughout the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Biles was returning to Olympic competition after withdrawing from events to look after her mental health. Black had reinjured her ankle in training and dropped from the individual all-around for a shot at the beam.
Biles earned a score of 14.000 for a seventh Olympic medal, and Black delivered a powerful performance for 13.866. The 25-year-old from Halifax was tearful and embraced her coach after her performance.
China finally reached the podium in women’s artistic gymnastics in Tokyo. Guan Chenchen won gold and Tang Xijing earned silver.
Here’s what else you may have missed on Tuesday in Tokyo:
Bring on the cheers
Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.
Upcoming men’s 200-metre semis
Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown have both qualified to race in the men’s 200-metre semifinals.
You can watch them compete in that race, scheduled to start at 7:50 a.m. ET here.
De Grasse ran 20.56 seconds to finish third in his qualifying heat, while Brown won his own with a time of 20.38 seconds.
De Grasse took the silver in Rio 2016, with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt speeding to his third consecutive gold medal in the event. Brown raced to 16th place.
It was that semifinal that gave the world the iconic photo of the pair, with De Grasse and Bolt sharing smiles as the Canadian tried to push past him at the finish.
Sport climbing debut
It was a special moment for Canadian sport climber Sean McColl, who is among the first Olympians in the sport.
The 33-year-old from North Vancouver had advocated for sport climbing to be included in the Games, and saw his dream become a reality with its debut in Tokyo.
“I am incredibly honoured to be part of this historical group, to be forever written into the history books of [the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s] first Olympics,” he wrote on Instagram.
Fellow Canadian and family friend Alannah Yip, also from North Vancouver, will make her debut on Wednesday.
New Zealander wins 2 gold, 1 hour apart
It only took just over an hour for Lisa Carrington of New Zealand to paddle her way to two Olympic gold medals.
For a third straight time, the 32-year-old claimed Olympic gold in the single kayak 200-metre race. Afterward, Carrington and partner Caitlin Regal won gold in the doubles 500-metre event.
- Have a weird or random question about the Tokyo Olympic Games? We want to hear from you for an upcoming story: Email us: Ask@cbc.ca
Carrington set Olympic records in both.
She flew to the finish in a time of 38.120 seconds in the individual round. Then with teammate Regal, she broke the doubles time in one minute 35.785 seconds.
Women’s team pursuit finishes 4th
The Canadian women’s team pursuit squad came fourth after losing their bronze medal race to the United States.
The Americans were silver medallists in Rio 2016 and London 2012, while Canada was looking to repeat its back-to-back bronzes.
The Canadian team of Allison Beveridge, Annie Foreman-Mackey, Ariane Bonhomme and Georgia Simmerling couldn’t quite catch up to their opponent and finished in a time of four minutes 10.552 seconds.
The United States were ahead in a time of four minutes 08.040 seconds.
Canadian squads bounced from medal contention
The Canadian men’s volleyball team and women’s water polo team won’t be bringing home medals from Tokyo. Both fell in their quarter-final matches on Tuesday.
The men went down in straight sets on the court (21-25, 28-30, 22-25) to the Russian Olympic Committee. While the Canadians were hoping to compete for a medal, their match ended in a repeat of their fate in Rio 2016.
The Canadian women took on the two-time consecutive gold medallists U.S. in the pool, and lost 16-5. It was their first appearance in the Olympic tournament since Athens 2004, where the women finished seventh and didn’t reach the quarter-final stages.
Smashing a world record
Norweigan hurdler Karsten Warholm destroyed his previous world record in the intense heat and humidity of Tokyo.
It had only been a month and two days since he broke it the first time, shattering a record held by American Kevin Young that stood since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Warholm had an incredible performance in the 400-metre hurdles final, winning gold in a time of 45.94 seconds. The 25-year-old’s jaw dropped when he saw his time. He grabbed his jersey, ripping it open across his chest in celebration.
American Rai Benjamin broke the record, too, but came close behind in second.
- Have a weird or random question about the Olympic Games? We want to hear from you for an upcoming story: Email us: Ask@cbc.ca
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