Cameron Tringale enjoys 'special day' shooting 61 in Genesis Scottish Open
With the sun splitting the sky until later in the afternoon and a breeze in the air, the opening round of the $8 million Genesis Scottish Open delivered the perfect start to a spell that will see six tournaments take place in the country over just five weeks.
Pride of place at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian went to American Cameron Tringale, who equalled the course record with a nine-under 61 - it was a par 71 when Bernd Weisberger set that mark en route to winning in 2019 - to lead by three shots from compatriot Gary Woodland.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” said Tringale of an effort that was illuminated by a burst of six straight birdies at the start of the back nine, having used earlier gains at the fifth, seventh and eighth to build up that head of steam.
“I was really hot with the putter and matched it with my ball-striking. I gave myself a ton of chances and it was just one of those days.”
The 34-year-old, who won the 2014 Franklin Shoot-out on the PGA Tour with Australian Jason Day, last played in this event seven years ago at Gullane, where he opened with a 68 on that occasion and ended up in a tie for 53rd behind Rickie Fowler.
“I’ve played in a few Opens as well,“ added the world No 55. “So I’ve had moderate experience of links golf. I’m not a total newbie. It’s a lot of fun to play links golf. I’ve really been looking forward to coming over to this side of the pond.
“My expectations were not so much about what I would score. It was more just about being here and soaking it up. I always like to play a tournament the week before a major and get warmed up. It’s pretty good to do it on a links-style course.
“I wouldn’t say my game has necessarily been trending. I’ve had some flashes of brilliance in the last couple of months, but this was a special day for sure.”
It would have been more special if he’d joined golf’s ‘59 Club’, having set up that chance with three holes to play. “It crossed my mind for a second, then I tried to put it out of my mind just as quickly as it came,” admitted the leader.
Woodland, the 2019 US Open champion, carded an eagle and four birdies on another tidy card. “I've struggled coming over here,” he admitted. “I played the Scottish once before, 2011, so it's been a long time.
“I think the big deal is the pace of greens. They are usually typically so fast back home and over here you can't get them that fast with the conditions. But it's nice to get over here and get familiar with the speed of the greens. That will be a big deal next week (in the 150th Open) as well.”
He described Wednesday’s wind as “brutal” but reckoned the test on the Tom Doak-designed course had been “perfect” in that breeze. “I drove the golf ball in the fairway, and that's huge out here,” said Woodland. “There's some tough driving holes. You've got to keep it in play. I did that today, and I gave myself a chance to be a little more aggressive into the green.”
Out in one of the first groups of the day, South African Justin Harding made the most of being one of four LIV Golf players in the field as he opened with a 65, one less than Dane Rasmus Hojgaard, American Kurt Kitayama and Mito Pereira, the Chilean who squandered a last-hole lead in the PGA Championship in May.
On a day when world No 1 Scottie Scheffler had to settle for a 73, third-ranked Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth, who had a burst of five straight birdies on his front nine, signed for matching 68s to sit handily-placed.
In an event featuring all four reigning major champions, 2021 Open winner Collin Morikawa and recent US Open victor Matthew Fitzpatrick both opened with 71s in the tougher afternoon conditions, when PGA title-holder Justin Thomas bogeyedd the last for a 73.
Rickie Fowler, the 2015 winner at nearby Gullane, wasn’t too disappointed that a bogey at the last left him posting a 69. “Links golf is my favourite and playing anywhere in this part of the world is fun, especially when it’s a good day with blue skies and no rain,” said the American. “I like playing in the wind. You see different shots.”
Will he be paying a nostalgic visit to the scene of his triumph in the event? “We don’t have our own car this week, so we’re getting a ride back and forwards to here, but hopefully I’ll go by at some point,” he said.
“Last time we were here two years ago, we went over and had a pint. They have a bar named after me over there. They treated me on that one. But I’m happy to support the bar anytime! It’s a great membership with good people and I have great memories.”
Viktor Hovland, the world No 8, hit a shank then followed it with a duff in his 74, though, in fairness to the Norwegian, he was playing with a new set of tools after his clubs didn’t turn up in Scotland.
“There was just too much stuff going on,” said Hovland, who is making his debut in the event. “It’s just golf. You can hit great shots, but it’s a case of how bad is your bad. Right now, I’m hitting too many and need to clean it up.”