Jack Nicklaus had a reality check of sorts early in his back nine on the Old Course at St. Andrews when he three-putted three straight holes, carded three straight bogeys and posted a 75 that will make it difficult for him to make the cut Friday in what he says will be his final major championship appearance.
"I'm here to play golf first," Nicklaus said when asked if all the hullabaloo about his retirement this week had affected his concentration in his 38th British Open. "Until I don't think that I have much of a chance to do much of anything -- probably realistically I should say that right now, but I'm not going to.
"I'll go out and see if I can shoot a good round [Friday]. I'd like to walk across the [Swilcan] Bridge [across the 18th fairway] on Sunday, not on Friday, so that's really my goal."
Nicklaus, 65, birdied the first hole, but finished with five bogeys.
"I feel my age every day, every minute there," said Nicklaus. "I know exactly how old I am."
Calcavecchia's Odd Hours
It was a tough night for Mark Calcavecchia, who won the 1989 Open at Royal Troon but still went off in the first group Thursday at 6:30 a.m.
He said he woke up at precisely 2:09 a.m. because "that's when my wife had a sneezing attack and I was ready to wake up anyway. We slept a lot yesterday, three hours in the afternoon, then to bed at 9 p.m. I was planning to get up at 4. I'll be ready for another nap this afternoon."
Calcavecchia said early on there was mostly silence during his round. "If I was spectating, I don't think I'd be out there that early," he said. "I don't think you can even get a beer that early, can you? You certainly can't spectate without a beer."
U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, in with a 3-under 69, had no trouble getting excited about his opening round Thursday, not after watching his victory for the first time the night before. He said his agents had made a DVD of the final round for him and he watched it before going to sleep. "It was very emotional," he said. "I even got goose bumps watching it because that was the first time I saw it. It was nice to see how I performed in front of the world's best, and how I beat them." . . .
Scotland's Colin Montgomerie has been playing the Old Course for 20 years and said his opening drive marked the first time he has hit a ball into the Swilcan Burn (stream) fronting the first green. "Did you see that?" he said. " . . . It just got a big old bounce and just ran out of room." Montgomerie recovered nicely to post a 71, but he also knows who he has to catch for his first major title. "It's ominous who's on top of the board, ominous unfortunately," he said of Tiger Woods. "Not unfortunate for him, but unfortunate for me and the rest of the competitors stuck on one under and level par. If there's a course built for him, it's this one. ". . .
Englishman Stephen Webster threw a 6-under 30 at the field early Thursday afternoon with two front-nine eagles, but gave it all back on the inward nine, shooting 41 with three bogeys and a double on the back. . . . Former Maryland golf coach Fred Funk, who has always said he doesn't like links golf, proved it again, shooting a 77.