Stuck in traffic, Sergio makes it to the course in time

Jul 15, 2021, 3:03 AM | Updated: 3:25 pm

Sergio Garcia had broken 70 only once in his previous eight rounds at Royal St. George’s, so he was particularly pleased with a 68 in the first round Thursday at the British Open.

He started the day bracing for the worst because of a traffic jam.

“Even though I left the house with plenty of time, I needed a little bit of help from a couple of very nice English policemen on bikes to get me here with only about 35, 40 minutes to tee off,” Garcia said.

The Spaniard says he prefers to be at the course about an hour-and-a-half before his tee time so he can ease his way into preparations.

This left him as stressful as anything he confronted on the links course.

He still doesn’t know what happened.

“We just got stuck. We couldn’t move,” Garcia said. “And thankfully they helped us a little bit and got us here in time. I was able to do a very quick practice, very quick warmup. But it worked out OK because I played nicely.”

It certainly worked out better for Garcia than it did Seve Ballesteros, who claimed he was stuck in traffic on the way to Baltusrol in the 1980 U.S. Open, was late to the tee and disqualified.


Louis Oosthuizen posted his lowest score ever in a major with a 6-under 64, and it matched the best start in a British Open at Royal St. George’s, first set by Christy O’Connor in 1985.

That’s the good news.

Trouble is, low scores in the British Open do not always translate into the claret jug.

Oosthuizen is the 10th player with 64 or better in the first round of the British Open, a list that includes Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, who each had 63. None of those previous nine went on to win.

Mickelson lost in that magnificent duel with Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon in 2016. McIlroy got caught in the wind the next day at St. Andrews in 2010 and shot 80.

Adam Scott shot 64 in the opening round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2012 and looked to be a winner until he made bogey on his last three holes and was runner-up to Ernie Els.


Will Zalatoris had a lot to remember in his first British Open. He opened with a 1-under 69.

Zalatoris holed out from the fairway on the 12th hole for an eagle to reach 3 under. He was was still at 3 under when he went to knock in an 18-inch putt on the 17th hole. The stroke, even with his arm-lock grip, was so bad that he missed it badly to the right.

Zalatoris bogeyed the 18th, too, and had to settle for a 69.

It still has been quite a year for Zalatoris, who was playing on the Korn Ferry Tour at this time a year ago. He earned special temporary status on the PGA Tour, helped by his tie for sixth in the U.S. Open last year. He was runner-up to Hideki Matsuyama at the Masters.

But his season could be coming to an end. Without a victory over the next three weeks, Zalatoris is not eligible for the PGA Tour’s lucrative postseason.


Brandt Snedeker had a 68 for his lowest start to a British Open since 2012. But it’s the way he posted that number that was so astounding.

Snedeker was 1 over for his round with three holes to play when he nearly made a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole. He was even better on the 17th, holing out from the fairway for an eagle. Consecutive 2s on his card went a long way.

If it seems strange to see Snedeker at Royal St. George’s, there’s a reason. He is mired in a slump that has dropped him well out of the top 100 in the world for the first time in more than a decade. Off the course has been difficult. Snedeker has lost both parents since October, with his father dying of cancer in early June.

He qualified for the Open by reaching the Tour Championship in 2019. The R&A honored all players who would have been eligible had it been played last year.


There are 26 players from England at the British Open, and most of them are well aware of how long it has been since an Englishman had his name on the claret jug.

Nick Faldo in 1992 was the last.

And Englishman winning the Open on an English links? That would be Tony Jacklin in 1969 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (Sandy Lyle, who won at Royal St. George’s in 1985, was born in England but played under the Scottish flag).

Is this the year? And what has taken so long?

Justin Rose says it’s all about numbers, For the longest time, English hopes were carried mainly by Lee Westwood. Rose, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Paul Casey soon joined the fray.

Now there are the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick.

“Right now, I think it’s probably as strong a chance as we’ve had, maybe even ever,” Rose said. “Listen, the lads can do it. We’ve all grown up playing lots of links golf to be honest with you, and yeah, it should be a style of golf that we all relish.

“Hopefully, Royal St George’s with the St George’s cross is kind of a lucky omen this week.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Australia's Adam Scott acknowledges the crowd on the 13th hole during the Australian Open golf cham...
Associated Press

Column: Adam Scott makes sense without making enemies

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The player everyone assumed was a lock to join LIV Golf is still a PGA Tour member and might be the only one capable of making sense without making enemies. Adam Scott speaks without an agenda, and in these acrimonious times, that can make it difficult to discern exactly where he […]
1 day ago
Brazilian players hold a banner in honour of the 82-year-old Brazilian soccer legend Pele who is in...
Associated Press

Doctors say Pelé’s health improving, remains in hospital

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian soccer great Pelé is improving, doctors said Tuesday. The 82-year-old Pelé has been hospitalized for a week to treat a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19. He is expected to leave the hospital when he fully recovers from the infection. “(He has) stable vital signs, is conscious, and with no new […]
1 day ago
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, shoots a 3-point basket over Houston Rockets forwa...
Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: 5 full-court shots a stretch even for Curry

Stephen Curry is known for hitting deep 3-point shots and buzzer-beaters from half-court — but even the celebrated Warriors guard didn’t sink five consecutive full-court baskets, despite a convincingly edited video that swept social media this week. The clip of the 34-year-old NBA star racked up more than 28 million views and more than 40,000 […]
1 day ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, passes beside his coach Fernando Santos as he leaves the fiel...
Associated Press

Ronaldo benched for World Cup match against Switzerland

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo was benched for Portugal’s game against Switzerland on Tuesday in the round of 16 of the World Cup. The move came a day after his coach expressed frustration about Ronaldo’s attitude in the last match. Goncalo Ramos was listed in the starting lineup in Ronaldo’s place. Ronaldo showed obvious […]
1 day ago
FILE - Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson answers questions at a news conference Tuesday...
Associated Press

Titans fire GM Jon Robinson in midst of his 7th season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee owner Amy Adams Strunk fired general manager Jon Robinson on Tuesday in the midst of his seventh season with the Titans off to a 7-5 start. The Titans announced Strunk’s decision in a statement. Ryan Cowden, the vice president of player personnel, will handle player personnel for the rest of […]
1 day ago
FILE - The New York Rangers, members of the National Hockey League, pose for a photo in 1928 in New...
Associated Press

Hockey’s history shows handful of non-white pioneers

Taffy Abel carried the American flag at the 1924 Olympics, where his team won silver in hockey. Henry Elmer “Buddy” Maracle played 11 games in the early-1930s NHL. Paul Jacobs may have played in the league’s second season in 1918-19. But in the commonly known history of hockey, a predominantly white sport in North America […]
1 day ago
Stuck in traffic, Sergio makes it to the course in time