The oldest of the Grand Slams set off for its 150th edition in Saint Andrews, this Thursday, July 14. The Frenchman, Victor Perez, shared his impressions after a first round which he closed with a 71 (-1).
“How do you judge this first round?
Doing minus 1, playing under par on a first round of Major, was important. There will be quite a gap between good and bad scores. We drive a lot of greens, or we’re not far, on four or five holes, plus the two par 5s. There was a -8, it’s not surprising. But in the other direction, if we start to get a little lost in the drive, it becomes complicated.
Mackenzie (Hughes) who was playing with me missed a shot at 13 and he lost his ball in a bush when there were maybe 150 people nearby. It can go very quickly in both directions.
Do you have any regrets about this part?
No, I’m not going to focus on regrets just that I’m happy with my game. The main thing here is to drive and then have the touch with the putter at 20, 30, 35 m. We have long putts on all holes, whether for eagles or birdies. Or they are rolled chips. It’s just feeling, to be able to judge which shot to play to try to make birdies.
And your bet was a satisfaction…
Yes, I’m happy overall, I started really well. Afterwards, we can’t expect to have a perfect day on the greens. Some players will get there, but 25, 30 m all day, if we look at the stats, out of 15 chances at this distance we will inevitably make 3 putts unfortunately. So overall I’m happy with my day.
What is the difference between this course and the one you play at Dunhill Links?
It’s day and night. When you see a hole like the 16, certainly with wind, we were 10m from the green. Inevitably there is a risk in itself, but it is a hole on which we rarely hit the driver; normally it’s a left short iron and then a 7 iron. Same as the 18, it’s 350 yards, I hit a 2 iron, not necessarily good, the ball went up the green and down. It’s just judgment. You have to manage to trust yourself and tell yourself that the ball will go the distance.
Playing the course in The Open configuration, what does that change?
Nothing special, the flags and the ball don’t feel like it’s The Open, it’s the same shot as if we were there in early February, although the atmosphere makes it still top d to be in the mecca of golf. Having played quite a few Majors in recent years, having an audience after the Covid party is nice. Especially here where the public appreciates golf, knows how to judge whether a shot is good or bad. And is grateful when he sees a quality shot.
The key to the journey?
If anyone has it, I’d love to know it…”