July 15, 2016 - 5:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
@TheOpen
Phil Mickelson is on fire at Royal Troon. The five-time major champ missed an ace at the famed "Postage Stamp" by 2 inches, setting up a birdie for an early five-stroke lead in Round 2.

One day removed from nearly setting a new major championship, 18-hole scoring record, Phil Mickelson is showing no signs of slowing down at Royal Troon in the 145th Open Championship.

Mickelson, who shot an 8-under 63 in Round 1 when his putt for a major-best 62 lipped out, jumped out to a five-stroke advantage early on Friday with birdies on three of his first eight holes to get to 11 under.

The five-time major winner's blitzing of the field early on has been thanks to shots like this one on the par-3 eighth hole, the "Postage Stamp" -- Royal Troon's signature hole and one of the most iconic holes in the game:

 

 

You can't get much closer to an ace without the ball dropping than that. Two. Inches.

And more good news for Mickelson: early indications suggest that he may be a luck of the draw beneficiary with his first and second round tee times. The weather is getting nasty in Scotland and it's expected to get worse as the day wears on. It would seem that all the stars could be aligning for Mickelson, who hasn't won a tournament since his 2013 victory in the Open.

British Open: Phil Mickelson nearly aces Royal Troon's 'Postage Stamp'
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
USA Today Sports Images
It's hard to believe how often the most interesting man in golf, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, holes out from the fairway or hits holes-in-one.

If hole-outs are supposed to be all luck, someone forgot to tell Miguel Ángel Jiménez. It's ridiculous how often he either nails one from the fairway or drills a hole-in-one. 

At 52 years young, the most interesting man in golf isn't slowing down any time soon. Here he is at the 16th hole, draining one from the fairway for eagle during the first round at Royal Troon.

 
Keep doing your thing Miguel Ángel Jiménez, it never gets old.

As great as this shot was, there's no way it was better than this highlight from the 2010 Open Championship:

 

 

British Open: Check out Miguel Angel Jimenez' hole-out and dance
July 14, 2016 - 8:48am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tom Watson
USA Today Sports Images
When it comes to the British Open, it's not uncommon to see older players perform well. Why is that? Here are five reasons.

More so than any of the four majors, the Open Championship is your best chance to see an older player perform well or even win.

Look no further than five-time Open Champion Tom Watson, who -- at age 59 -- lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink in 2009 at Turnberry.

You can also look at the 2011-2013 Open Championships, won by Darren Clarke (45 at the time), Ernie Els (44) and Phil Mickelson (44), respectively. Then there was Mark O'Meara who won at age 41 in 1998 at Royal Birkdale.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Intriguing pairings | Oosty's ace

Oddly, while the Open is most susceptible to an older player performing well, its champion's average age of 31 is the youngest out of the four majors.

The oldest winner of the Open Championship is Old Tom Morris. He was was 46 years and 102 days old when he won in 1867 at Prestwick. His son, Tom Morris, Jr., is the youngest winner of the championship. He was 17 years and 156 days old when he won the very next year (also at Prestwick).

So, why is it, we wondered, that older (not "old") players seem to shine at the Open?

Here are five reasons...

5. Familiarity with the courses. Unlike the younger players in the field, older players have usually had multiple turns at the courses in the Open rota. Given the subtleties of links courses -- and the venues themselves -- this can be a big advantage. Sure, there's a difference between knowing what you want your ball to do and getting your ball what to do what you want it to, but if an older player has both those things figured out like Watson did in 2009, look out.

4. They embrace the conditions. It's not all sunshine and double rainbows at an Open Championship. There's a good chance that over the course of four days, you're going to get caught up in some miserable weather. Shoot, the motto on that side of the pond is, "Nae wind, nae rain, it's nae golf." Older players get that. They're not going to complain about things like "water on the clubface" (like a certain top golfer did at a major in the last couple of years), wind, cold, or whatever else. They're going to suck it up and grind, realizing it's the same for everyone else as it is for them. An Open Championship is a battle of attrition. It is what it is. Deal with it. Get through it. Make the best of it. Never pack it in because anything can happen in links golf.

3. You don't have to be a bomber. That's not to say that guys like Clarke, Els and Mickelson don't hit the ball a long way. They do. But Watson and O'Meara aren't noted bombers. Open Championship courses might not be shorter yardage-wise on the scorecard than stateside major venues, but they play a heck of a lot shorter when you factor in the conditions and the style of game required to succeed -- low, running shots, as opposed to soaring high shots that land like a feather. Because of the equipment older players learned to play the game with, they're arguably more creative than younger generations. It's not bomb and gouge. It's about manufacturing shots and seeing shapes others don't.

2. Slower greens. There's just no way around this. The greens at an Open Championship are slower than the other three majors and that's just a fact. Are they slow? Not by any means. But they are slower. When you can be a little more aggressive with a putt and not have to worry about running it 10 feet past the hole, chances are you're going to shoot lower scores. For the older guys, the slower greens can be a great equalizer in links golf.

1. Older players know when to take their medicine. This could be the biggest reason you see older players perform well at the Open Championship. Deep, gnarly fescue. Gorse bushes. Pot bunkers. An older, wiser player isn't going to attempt a "hero shot" if the moment doesn't call for it. Instead, they're going to take their medicine, get back in play and in position for the next shot. You might think it's as simple as fundamental course management, but it's not. Need we remind you of Jean Van de Velde's 72nd hole at Carnoustie in 1999? 

British Open: 5 Reasons why older players can thrive
July 14, 2016 - 7:01am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Louis Oosthuizen
@TheOpen on Twitter
For the second time in three major championships this season, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen has recorded a hole-in-one. Here's his latest from Thursday on the 14th hole at Royal Troon in the first round of the British Open.

Louis Oosthuizen is making holes in one at majors a "thing."

Back in April in the final round of the Masters, the 2010 British Open Champion did this on the par-3 16th -- a unique, bank-shot ace:

 

 

Playing the 178-yard, par-3 14th hole at Royal Troon in the first round of the British Open on Thursday, Oosthuizen did this with a 6-iron for the first ace at Royal Troon since 1997:

 

 

 

 

Are you kidding me? Two aces in three majors this season?

Wow.

The ace pulled Oosthuizen back to even par for the day.

British Open: Oosthuizen scores ace at Royal Troon's 14th hole
July 14, 2016 - 5:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Colin Montgomerie
@TheOpen on Twitter
Not all par saves are created equal. With that, we present to you this fantastic 50-foot par putt Colin Montgomerie holed during the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Troon on Thursday.

This week is a home game for Colin Montgomerie.

Monty, a three-time major winner on the 50-and-over circuit, reckons he could throw a ball from his childhood home to Royal Troon. In recognizing Montgomerie's close ties to Troon, the R&A scheduled him to hit the opening tee shot of the 145th Open Championship on Thursday.

Monty wasn't going to let that be the lone highlight of his day (and it wasn't much of a highlight anyway, considering he double bogeyed the hole).

At 2 under through 12 holes, check out this par saver Montgomerie knocked down on the par-4 13th:

 

 

Yeah. That works.
 

Colin Montgomerie buries 50-foot par putt
July 14, 2016 - 4:21am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Patrick Reed
@TheOpen on Twitter
Patrick Reed holed out for an eagle 2 on the par-4 third hole at Royal Troon in the first round of the Open Championship on Thursday.

Something about golf in Scotland just seems to bring out the best in Patrick Reed.

Reed was the star of Ryder Cup USA in 2014 at Gleneagles with a 3-0-1 record in his debut (a losing effort for the U.S.). On Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship, he made two quick pars on holes 1 and 2 before this beauty at No. 3:

That right there is an eagle 2.

Reed followed that with a birdie at No. 4 to get to 3 under through four holes and right near the top of the leaderboard. 

Patrick Reed holes out for early eagle at Royal Troon