Ames' first round full of ups and downs

Stephen Ames watches his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the British Open in...

Stephen Ames watches his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the British Open in northern England on Thursday, July 19, 2012. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:07 PM ET

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND - When he was finished up his opening round -- a four-over par 74, marred by a triple-bogey seven on the sixth hole -- Calgarian Stephen Ames was asked what he would do for the rest of the day.

"I think I'll go play Birkdale," Ames said jokingly, referring to the difficult course nearby that is part of the British Open rotation.

How about playing tourist with his son, Ryan, and visiting nearby Blackpool, famous for its roller-coaster?

"And do what, throw up? I'm not doing that," Ames said.

He had enough ups and downs Thursday on Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

"I just didn't hit it very well," the 48-year-old said. "I was very inconsistent. The driver was weak -- again. I had some opportunities and missed a lot of good putts, caught the lips and they didn't go in, unfortunately. Overall, considering I had a seven in my round, I actually shot only one-over." The triple came because of the rough, which is ridiculously deep in some places.

"It was an okay drive down the middle, right. Second shot we waited 10 minutes to play. Then I hit it left, horrible lie, one of those chip-out kind of lies." Ames ended up in a bunker, which, in this case, was not a good thing.

"You get into the traps and you expect something and when you actually get in there, it's like holy (crap)," he said.

"It's like mud. It just goes 'umph' (when you take a swing). It just grabs your club and stops it dead. I didn't judge it right and left it in (the bunker). Easy seven. It's a slop, a complete slop. The bunkers are like mud.

It's not sand. You almost want to change the bounce on your club." "I think 50% of the bunkers are under water. There's quite a bit of water out there, unfortunately, but I thought the course held up nice. It's not bouncing. It's very receptive. Very slow."

WOODS IN GOOD POSITION

Methodical. That's one word to describe Tiger Woods' trip around Royal Lytham & St. Annes Thursday morning in the first round of the British Open.

It took him 67 strokes, three-under par, and left him in good position just three shots back of leader Adam Scott.

"Yeah, I felt like I had pretty good control," Woods said. "I was shaping the golf ball both ways. Sometimes I rode the wind, sometimes I held it against it." Woods had a solid ball-striking day, hitting 15 greens in regulation and 13 of 14 fairways. He said he used his driver only on the second and seventh holes.

"I was playing to my spots," he said. "I had certain sections I wanted to put the ball in, and I did that all day." Woods was at four-under after seven holes, getting off to a quick start on the easier of the two nines. But he played the last 11 holes one-over par, despite giving himself lots of good looks on the greens.

"I was just lacking a little bit of pace on the greens coming home," Woods said. "Every putt I hit was on line, except for the one I hit on 12. But every putt was right on my line. They were dying off the front of the lip, so I needed to hit the putts a little bit firmer." Woods said Royal Lytham was there for the taking, the lack of wind and wet conditions in the morning making it vulnerable.

"It was pretty soft," he said. "The wind wasn't blowing and we were backing golf balls up (making them spin back). That's something we just don't see.

On the first hole we had a perfect indication: I hit a 5-iron straight at it and it rolled out eight feet. I can't remember the last time it did that on a links golf course." Because of the conditions, Woods knew he needed to start strongly.

"I figured (two-under on the front nine) would have been good, but I look up on the board and Scotty (Adam Scott) is going pretty low and so is everyone else. I felt I had to make a few more and I was able to." Woods will tee off for the second round at 2:43 p.m. local time Friday (9:43 a.m. EDT), again with Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.

MCILROY A HIT AT OPEN

Rory McIlroy didn't exactly take the road less traveled en route to his 3-under par 67, good for a share of sixth place after the first round of the British Open Thursday.

The 2011 U.S. Open champ had just 10 pars to go along with six birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the double coming after his tee shot on the par-4 15th hole caromed off a young man's head and out of bounds.

"Yeah, if he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway," McIlroy said of the incident, which left the kid with a bandaged head and a signed glove.

"I've (hit spectators) a few times before, so it's not the first time. The most important thing was that he was OK because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was," he added. "I thought I did well to keep my composure and keep my concentration and finish the way I did. I'm very pleased with that." The double dropped McIlroy to 1-under for his round, but he rebounded by driving the green on the par-4 16th hole, 322 yards away. He two-putted for birdie, parred 17 and came up with a big birdie on 18 to finish strongly.

"Yeah, standing on the 16th tee, my goal is to get back to 3-under par for the day and I was able to do that," said the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland. "So that birdie on 18 will make dinner taste very nice tonight."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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