The Open Diary: Spieth's easy start, Ringo, and three in the sand for Lee


The Rio 2016 Olympics were high on the agenda in Tuesday's media conferences building up to The Open.

Jordan Spieth confirmed he was out and Rory McIlroy made it clear he was never really in.

We've got that, some bunker woes and a nice touch from the Royal Troon hierarchy in our daily Open diary.



Spieth's withdrawal from Rio 2016 was revealed on Monday by International Golf Federation president Peter Dawson.

The young American fronted up to the media on Tuesday and had the customary luxury of first fielding a tame question from host Mike Woodcock.

Having answered what it would mean to him to win The Open, Spieth looked cautiously at a packed media room and declared: "I can already see by far that's going to be the easiest question I receive."

He got a hearty laugh - and then a good grilling.



You would be forgiven for thinking there are no golfers left who haven't pulled out of the Games, but you would also be wrong.

There are still some big names heading to Brazil and one in particular is a very close friend of Spieth's.

Rickie Fowler confirmed his intention to compete on Sunday in a tweet and Spieth revealed he was sitting next to his compatriot when he wrote it.

When Spieth came to his own decision, he immediately text Fowler and got the following reply: "No worries. I know you had to make it just for you. You're just going to be jealous when I get that gold." 



McIlroy also tackled the topic of the Olympics in a fiery media conference, but not before getting irked by a comparison that didn't seem to sit too comfortably with him.

A putative 'big four' has developed in golf, with the Northern Irishman competing for major honours alongside Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, and one journalist compared it to the Beatles. Because, you know, there were four of those.

But with his trio of contemporaries having won majors more recently, it was put to McIlroy that he was "in danger of becoming Ringo", perhaps the least influential of Liverpudlian quartet.

It didn't draw a smile so much as a sigh from the 27-year-old, who replied: "I haven't heard that, no. Probably not the first time I've been compared to the Beatles."



Lee Soomin is not likely to have to put up with Beatles-based gags this week, but he did share one thing in common with McIlroy as both found trouble in the sand.

While McIlroy admitted to taking "an eight or a nine" on the fiendishly difficult Postage Stamp hole, Lee had a rough time on the fourth.

He hit three shots off the fairway after a solid drive and found a bunker with each one.

His first recovery shot was deft and stopped a foot short of the hole, but the final insult came when it was greeted with one person clapping from beyond the ropes.



It wasn't all laughs at the expense of others, though, as three previous Open winners at Troon - Mark Calcavecchia, Justin Leonard and Todd Hamilton - basked in the glow of a being awarded honorary membership of the club.



The eagle-eyed among you will note a common theme among that trio of Troon title winners and it is one that spreads beyond the South Ayrshire course.

Americans do well at The Open, according to the history books, but Sweden's Henrik Stenson found a way to make it work for him.

Told that the past six Opens at Troon have been won by US natives, he cheerfully replied: "I play a lot of golf in America, so that's good."