Golf

'Almost impossible' conditions topple 30-year scoring record at men's major

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Things got out of hand on Sunday at the Senior Open Championship.
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Sunday was a no-good, very bad Sunday at the Senior Open Championship in Wales.
That much was clear to even the most passive observer of Sunday’s action, where 30 mph winds and sideways rainstorms combined to send players searching for knit caps … and scores skyrocketing to historically high levels.
In fact, things got so bad on Sunday, they even earned the sympathy of bad-conditions star Justin Thomas, who admitted even HE wouldn’t have enjoyed the stroll around Royal Porthcrawl on Sunday afternoon.
“Not gonna lie, I can’t stop watching the #SeniorOpen,” he tweeted on Sunday morning. “A PROPER links golf weather day. It is absolute carnage for those guys and (I’m sorry) it is fun to watch haha.”
Not gonna lie, I can’t stop watching the #SeniorOpen… A PROPER links golf weather day. It is absolute carnage for those guys and (I’m sorry) it is fun to watch haha
For that much, we have no counterpoint. It was fun to watch — though it looked considerably less fun to play.
After blustery conditions contributed to higher-than-usual scores on Saturday, Sunday’s winds and rain resulted in players hitting their approach shots some 100 yards short of the green … on the 400-yard par-4 first hole.
Things started bad on Sunday, but they got much, much worse as the afternoon wore on. Only two holes at Royal Porthrawl played under par on average on Sunday, the downwind par-5 6th and 18th holes. The rest of the golf course was, simply, utter carnage — turning good shots into bad shots and bad shots into complete disaster. All told, Y.E. Yang’s even-par Sunday 71 was the low round of the day, some 18 strokes better than Sunday’s worst round, Patrik Sjoland’s final-round 89.
But neither Yang nor Sjoland emerged victorious from Sunday’s misery. No, those honors would belong to journeyman pro Alex Cejka, who closed out Padraig Harrington on the second hole of a two-hole playoff to take home the victory. Cejka’s four-over 75 will ultimately be remembered as the round that secured the championship on his behalf — an effort that left him even him in a state of disbelief.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said afterward. “It’s been a really tough week, it’s been a really tough two days.”
In all, Cejka’s 72-hole total score of five-over 289 remains the highest winning score of the Senior Open Championship since Bob Charles shot a seven-over 291 to win at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in 1992. In other words, the scores on Senior Open were the highest in the tournament in some 30 years.
Links weather tends to have that effect.
“I tried to make good shots, it’s almost impossible to make good shots in conditions like this,” Cejka said, before delivering the line that would come to define most of the field’s Sunday afternoon.
“I’m glad it’s over.”

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.
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