SOUTHPORT, England -- A shot had not even been struck in anger at The Open on Thursday morning before a buzz started making its way around Royal Birkdale.
"Have you seen what Justin Thomas is wearing?"
Thomas had taken to Twitter to unveil his outfit for Thursday's play which, it's fair to say, set tongues wagging and divided opinion in the golfing community.
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) July 17, 2017
Thomas explained that he had gone to his sponsors to see what could be done that would be special, and that it was only The Open that he felt gave him the freedom to wear something out of the ordinary. He also explained that it was a respectful nod to past eras, combining the tie of the early 20th century golfers with the cardigans of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Asked afterward how often he'd worn a tie, he said: "Not very often. I wore one every day in high school."
-- Steven Saunders
Rahm rides penalty roller coaster -- again
Controversial rulings at key moments seem to be following Jon Rahm around.
Having not been penalized during the final round of the Irish Open -- TV evidence of an incorrectly replaced ball was available but dismissed by the European Tour under new guidelines -- he was again under scrutiny after an incident in the first round on the 17th hole at Royal Birkdale.
The R&A later explained: "The location of the incident was in the rough on the left-hand side of the 17th hole. Jon Rahm moved a root believing it to be dead and therefore a loose impediment. However, it was still live, at which point playing partner Lee Westwood called an official who advised the players that there would be a two-shot penalty under rule 13/2.
"Both players returned to the recorders hut after the round to establish what had happened. There was no TV evidence, only the testimony of the players. On balance David Rickman, chief referee, determined that the lie was not improved and that Rahm had acted under good faith, so the two strokes were reinstated."
What had initially appeared to be a 1-over 71 swiftly became a 1-under 69, keeping Rahm just 4 shots back of the trio of 18-hole leaders.
-- Matt Cooper
Wood turns from son to father
For England's Chris Wood, the years between Royal Birkdale Open Championships have seen quite a change in his life, career and circumstances.
Back in 2008, he tied for fourth as a raw 20-year-old amateur, had his bag carried that week by his dad Richard, and still lived at home with his parents in Bristol.
Wood was, naturally, one of the late finishers nine years ago, and on Thursday he was in the first group, standing on the tee at 6.35 a.m. with Mark O'Meara and Ryan Moore to start the 146th Open Championship.
Now a Ryder Cup player and winner of the 2016 BMW PGA Championship, he is also father of 4-month-old Jonah, who wife Bethany kitted out in his first Open T-shirt to celebrate daddy's return to the scene of his breakthrough moment.
— Bethany Wood (@bethanywivell) July 20, 2017
-- Matt Cooper
Spieth leads -- but for how long?
Can Jordan Spieth maintain the pace in Round 2?
At first glance, you might wonder, "Why ask the question?" But whilst he has never been over par after 18 holes in The Open (and averages 68.60 through five opening laps after his 65 on Thursday), he has always struggled in Round 2 of the championship, not once bettering par and averaging 74.00.
As a consequence, in his previous four appearances, he has always gone backward on the Friday leaderboard.
-- Matt Cooper