7 Surprising Things From The 150th Open Championship

During a week full of talking points, here are seven things that surprised us from The Open

Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unpredictability during an Open Championship week is par for the course, and the 150th edition has proved no exception. From the action on the famous links to events off it, here are seven things from St Andrews that have surprised us...

Tiger's early exit

After five back surgeries and with a right leg that's permanently damaged having nearly lost it following his infamous crash some 17 months ago, this really shouldn't be a surprise. But it's Tiger Woods, and if we've learnt anything from his 25 years on tour, it's to expect the unexpected.

He also made the cut at The Masters in April and the PGA Championship in May on layouts far more physically demanding than the Old Course of St Andrews. Woods skipped the US Open to give himself the best chance of being competitive this week but his challenge failed to ignite.

Tiger Woods walking over the Swilcan Bridge at the end of his second round at the 150th Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In truth, Tiger never recovered from his opening double-bogey on Thursday, eventually limping to the finish with a record-high Open score of 78 (+6). By the time all was said and done on Friday, his nine-over tally was good enough only to beat seven of the 156-strong field that assembled for this historic occasion.

While the scene captured as he departed the Old Course in an Open Championship for quite possibly the last time was iconic, despite his limitations, we still thought it might wait till Sunday.

It was goodbye for now, not goodbye forever, at least.

Scotland's boo boys

Golf fans in the UK have long been heralded as "the best in the world", largely down to their perceived knowledge and etiquette. Cheering a shot that finished 30 feet from the hole isn't the done thing in the US apparently, no matter the level of difficulty. 

And what normally isn't the done thing this side of the pond, certainly at the Home of Golf, is to boo players. But this is 2022 and the new wave of sports fans are a rowdy bunch. All they needed was a reason to turn nasty. 

In fairness, it was a minority of the 60,000 in attendance that heckled one player onto the first tee, but still, it wasn't a pretty scene. For his involvement in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, Ian Poulter was the man jeered, although he insists he didn't hear them. 

It will be interesting to see if this remains the exception or if it becomes the new norm for LIV players.

'Ridiculous' pace of play

Slow rounds are expected here, but as Matt Fitzpatrick said on Thursday evening, it bordered on "ridiculous" this year. Out with Woods and Max Homa, they walked off the last green at 9.08pm, six hours and nine minutes after they set off on day one.

Matt Fitzpatrick after hitting a putt during the 150th Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In truth, it's a miracle every one of the lucky 156 got finished, with the last group of the day forced to play the 18th in almost total darkness. Thank God the fairway is basically unmissable. The criss-cross nature of the layout makes long rounds an inevitability, but the R&A will need to mitigate this when the game's oldest championship returns. 

Slumbers slams LIV

Speaking of the R&A, the governing body decided the time was right to let its feelings be known on the topic dominating golf's headlines. The Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series has fractured the game, and a cease-fire between golf's warring tribes appears anything but forthcoming.

Instead, during a pre-tournament press conference, R&A chief Martin Slumbers delivered a damning assessment of the up-start breakaway venture

Martin Slumbers addressing the media ahead of the 150th Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"There is no such thing as a free lunch," he said. "I believe the model we've seen at Centurion and Pumpkin Ridge is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money. We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special. 

"I would also like to say that in my opinion the continued commentary that this is about growing the game is just not credible and if anything, is harming the perception of our sport which we are working so hard to improve."

An avenue reportedly under consideration is to ban any player suspended from either the PGA or DP World Tour from teeing it up in future Opens, which is sure to help quell tensions...

Merch madness

Golfers really do love their merch. On Monday, sales eclipsed the best day from Portrush in 2019, and the punters kept on coming. Myself and a colleague nipped across this morning to see what all the fuss was about, and even with rain falling, eager fans were lined up in their hundreds. Needless to say we didn't wait.

The mammoth queues were a feature of the week, with many taking to social media to express their frustration. Before the leaders got their final rounds underway, shop shelves were empty. 

Old Course, same problems

Try as they might, the R&A could do nothing to rein in the low scores. Benign weather certainly didn't help, but it was hoped the combination of baked out fairways and wicked pin positions would keep the world's best in check.

Alas, it has been another case of 'they came, they saw, they conquered'. All that remains to be seen is whether the winning score will eclipse the record set by Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon. Another feather in the cap for the roll-the-ball-back brigade.

Quiet St Andrews

Having been to a few Opens in my time, I was surprised at how 'quiet' the town was. It's all relative, of course, as the place is clearly very busy, but for an Open week, it's been rather easy to get a pint. 

I assume Scotrail's barmy decision to strike has played a part. Little to no late services running means more people will have had to drive in or leave earlier than normal.

It's not been bad, per se, just different. 

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x