By Chuck Garbedian Special to Published Jul 16, 2009 at 9:12 PM

If you woke up especially early Thursday morning to tune into TNT's live first- round coverage of the 138th British Open from Turnberry and thought that you were still dreaming because, what have we here... Tom Watson is winning the British Open?

For several glorious hours, it was true. Old Tom Watson, a golfing legend of almost 60 years young, was alone atop the leader board of golf's oldest major championship. He played a youthful round at five-under par 65 on a glorious day for golf in the kingdom.

For the record, Watson's 65 included birdies at the first, third, tenth, 12th and 17th with nary a bogey on his card. He putted again like he was in his prime which is what slower than PGA Tour speed, but true, greens give a player, especially one who is on the back nine of his career.

Watson had eight one-putt greens and hit 15 greens in regulation while averaging 299 yards from the tee box.

Day One at a most majors usually provides a spark of surprise on the first page of the leader board. Those stories, quaint as they may be, usually fade, some sooner than others. But for a moment, even if it is just for the moment in time that is Day One of the 138th British Open, Tom Watson is the story of this day and the day to come with Round Two.

Take it from the Top: Of course, to replace a legend at the top of the leader board in a major you'd expect another big name to emerge and there are few bigger, at least in overall total letter count, than Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez had to do something special to secure his first-round lead at Turnberry and he, like Watson, turned in a bogey-free round under calm conditions.

Jimenez's 6-under par 64 included six birdies and nine one-putt greens with consecutive birdies on 17 and 18.

Let's take a look at the radar: The weather at the 138th left players hoarding birdie after birdie as a links golf course uses as some of its protection to par, not only the land but the atmosphere as well. When the wind blows, as it often does at Turnberry, no lead is safe, no hole "easy" and no par secure until the ball rests in the bottom of the cup.

When the wind dies down or disappears completely, as it did on Thursday, the course is left defenseless. There is a reason links golf is played primarily on the ground and that is the wind. It is far easier to control your golf ball by running it along the ground in windy weather than it is to hoist it up in the air and hope the distance, trajectory and spin rate are all just right for the shot to be executed.

To play true links golf takes a different mindset. On Thursday, once the players got on to the golf course and realized what the conditions were, many took advantage and posted red numbers on the leader board.

To give you an idea just how calm it was during the first round of the British Open, it was windier on Thursday during the first round of the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee than it was at Turnberry. That's not something the local bookies across the pond would have thought they'd lose a wager on.

The Striped One: I don't get it. For the third consecutive time in the opening round of a major, Tiger Woods came out of the gate timid, conservative and looking up the leader board, when clearly other players solved the Day One mystery that was Turnberry.

It was a perfect day for scoring and that was exactly what Tiger did not do.

Here are just some of the "other" names that are between Tiger and the top of the leader board after Day One at The Open. See how many you recognize -- Kenichi Kuboya, Branden Grace, James Kingston, Anthony Wall, Terry Pilkadaris and Steve Surry, just to name a few. Of course there are other more well known, established names on the list as well. Paul Casey, Davis Love III, Angel Cabrera, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, etc.

It seems to be a tale of two Tigers. On the one hand, you have the hard charging (Bay Hill), Fairway Splitting (Memorial), closer (his own tournament). And then on the other hand, you have this impostor who shows up at majors not looking anything like the player he displayed just one respective start earlier.

Heading into Friday, Woods is tied for 68th on the heels of a one-over par 71 that featured three birdies, four bogeys, one three-putt green and 30 total putts coming on only 12 greens in regulation.

If Tiger Woods is the best player on the planet, and he is, why can't he adapt to the changing conditions around him? Why can't he make a charge like a Kenichi Kuboya who finished of his round by going birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie for a 5-under par 65?

Long John: Love him or loathe him, there is no turning away from John Daly, either on or off a golf course. Thursday was no exception at Turnberry. The Green and Gold pants Long John donned for the first round of the British Open were truly something anyone in the state of Wisconsin could love. And no matter where you were in the room, you knew when JD was on the screen if only because someone would say, "Wow, look at those pants..." and try as you might, you had to look. You just had to look.

Day Two: Friday should feature more weather, more players whom you won't recognize without the assist from Google and, hopefully, a charge up the leader board from Tiger Woods.

One thing is certain, Day Two is sure to be as exciting and unpredictable as Day One. That's the beauty of true links style major championship golf.


Chuck Garbedian Special to
Chuck has more than a decade of experience in many aspects of the golf industry -- from sales to teaching to hosting radio talk shows. He has been media chairman for the Greater Milwaukee Open since 1992, has served as women's golf coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He currently does work for PGA TOUR Network on SIRIUS XM Radio.