Mother Nature surprises at Lytham
And what aspect of Tiger's game put him in prime position?
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Red was the color of the day at a non-lethal Royal Lytham in Round 1. When 36 players break par and 53 shoot even or better, you know conditions were ripe for scoring in northwest England.
Yet not everyone was able to capitalize on the pristine weather. Our experts in England break down all of the happenings from the Open Championship.
1. Who played themselves out of the Open Championship in Round 1?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: No one shot worse than 79 in Round 1. That being said, Martin Kaymer (7 over), Darren Clarke (6 over) and Justin Rose (4 over) have no shot to play the weekend. I say everyone at 2 over or worse have no chance to win this major.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Martin Kaymer, the 2010 PGA champion and 15th-ranked player in the world, after shooting a 7-over 77 Thursday. He's done.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Lee Westwood. He birdied the first two holes, but could not sustain it, shooting 40 on the inward nine and finishing with a 73. That's not so bad, except he's 9 strokes back with a slew of players between him and leader Adam Scott.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: Justin Rose is history. And Lee Westwood might make the cut, but it's going to take a golf miracle for him to matter on Sunday.
2. What did Tiger do well on Thursday to put him in the hunt at Lytham?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: He hit 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. What he did was play smart golf. That's not an easy thing to do on this course. If he continues to play that way he'll continue to stay near the lead.
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Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger made all the right moves on the course, but more importantly he played within himself. He didn't try to force anything. He understood that Lytham was vulnerable on Thursday, but he didn't get greedy.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: He was terrific off the tee, hitting 13 of 14 fairways, never coming close to missing any of them except for a pulled tee shot at the 15th, which led to a bogey. Woods hit 15 greens, which is almost always going to give you a chance.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: He was Tiger of Bay Hill, Memorial, AT&T and the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. Patient, patient, patient.
3. Who will have a harder time making the cut on Friday, Phil Mickelson or Lee Westwood (both shot 73)
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Mickelson definitely. He went straight to the range after his round and was working with Butch Harmon. So far every time I've seen him do that the past two years, he shoots worse than the previous round.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Phil has been struggling of late with his game. So I think he'll have a much harder time than Westwood, who came into the Open brimming with confidence.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Westwood. He put himself in a bind and suggested afterward he's had a bit of an issue with his swing. He can certainly do it, but he's going to need some putts to drop.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: Phil spent a lonnnnnng time on the range after Thursday's round. I think he's really having trouble finding his swing.
4. What was the biggest surprise for you after 18 holes at Royal Lytham?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Good surprise: Bubba Watson. He really played conservative golf and stuck to his game plan of not trying to overpower the golf course. It's good to see he has that type of game in him.
Disappointing surprise: Lee Westwood. I really thought the way he had been playing coming into the week that he would have a chance to win his first major. Closing with four bogeys on his last six holes pretty much ruined any chance he had of breaking that glass ceiling.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The weather. I never would have predicted on Monday that the conditions would be so ripe for scoring by Thursday. I knew there would be soft conditions because of the rain, but I thought the wind would blow harder.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The benign conditions. All week we've heard about the brutal bunkers, the difficult weather, the deep rough. And yet 36 players were under par, 13 at 3 under or better. That looks like a regular tour event, not a major.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: The weather. Or lack of it. Weather gods, please send wind and rain. Or at least rain, eh?
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2012 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
2012 venue: Royal Lytham & St. Annes
Where: Lytham St. Annes, England
TV coverage: All four rounds on ESPN
Yardage, par: 7,086 yards, par-70
Past champions: Complete list