Justin Rose’s bid for a third win in succession and second major title got off to a comical start at Royal Liverpool yesterday.
Rose started his opening round without a driver and only received it on the third hole, although he shrugged off the mix-up to shoot a level-par 72.
“You have to see the funny side of it,” said the 2013 US Open champion, who claimed back-to-back wins for the first time in his career in the Scottish Open on Sunday. “I had three drivers in my bag after yesterday. There were a couple of drivers made up for a couple of my caddie’s friends. Two were taken out and given to these two gentlemen and one was left in my golf bag. It just was the wrong one.
“This morning when I picked up my bag there was a driver in the wrong spot. I picked it up and realised that’s not my shaft. That club should have been given to someone else and mine was actually given to that person and driven down to Bedford.
“Fortunately it didn’t affect the game plan. Obviously when we made the call, the guy was coming straight back with it and I knew I would have it by the time I really, really needed it out there, toward the seventh and the back nine. The way the course was playing I knew I wasn’t going to require the driver for a good couple of hours into my round.”
Speaking about his round, Rose added: “Even par always feels like a waste of five hours, really. I felt like there was a lot of good stuff today and really felt comfortable with my game early on, but ran out of a little bit of steam on the back nine.
“The back nine was playing a little tricky and I had trouble with club selection off the tee. I tried to force the 2-iron a couple of times when I should have hit 3-wood or driver. I’ll learn from that for tomorrow and go make a score. It’s a platform for which I can build for the rest of the week.”
Defending Open champion Phil Mickelson is confident his game is only a fraction away from being back to the level it was when he won at Muirfield 12 months ago. The American has not had a victory since lifting the Claret Jug, only the third year since 1993 he has arrived at The Open without a victory.
But Mickelson remains as positive as ever he is on the verge of turning a corner despite a first-round 74 at Royal Liverpool, eight shots off the lead.
“This is the best I’ve hit it in over a year,” he stressed. “I had as much control over the golf ball as I’ve had in a long time. Whether it was working cuts into the wind, draws into the wind, shots off the tee. Certainly the score sucks but my game is as good as it’s been in a long time.”