ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Facing a group of puzzled British Open spectators, his back to the flag, Kevin Kisner banged one ball off the stone wall alongside the 17th hole.
Both came up a little short of the green.
“You’ve got to hit it harder than you think,” the 31-year-old American said Monday, breaking into a grin. “It didn’t come flying back as quick as I thought.”
On his first trip to Scotland, Kisner spent some time Monday working on a shot that he’d never tried before — except maybe at a putt-putt course. He tossed a couple of balls next to the wall that runs down the right side of the famed Road Hole — preventing a backswing when facing the hole — and attempted to ricochet them onto the green.
He’d seen video of Miguel Angel Jimenez pulling off the shot at the 2010 Open. Kisner wasn’t able to duplicate it, swinging a little too tentatively because he didn’t want his ball to scoot all the way across the green and into the treacherous bunker on the opposite side of the hole.
“I figured I might as well try it,” said Kisner, who has lost three playoffs this season and is still seeking his first PGA Tour victory. “You never know if you’re going to need it.”
Kisner was among those who arrived Monday morning on a cross-Atlantic flight after playing in the John Deere Classic. He was clearly jet-lagged but couldn’t resist a chance to get a look at the home of golf, walking seven holes with only a wedge and some balls.
“Man, what a place,” he said, gazing at the St. Andrews course from behind the first tee, the sun breaking through the clouds after a mostly dreary day. “This is cooler that we even expected.”
As for the Road Hole, Kisner would prefer to keep the wall out of play.
“Hopefully,” he said, “I don’t have to attempt that shot anymore.”
GETTING READY IN RIO: There are no longer any worries that a new course in Rio will be ready in time for golf’s return to the Olympics. A test event, however, will likely have to be pushed back to early next year.
The International Golf Federation, which is overseeing the Olympic preparations, issued an update Monday on a project that has been plagued by delays and legal challenges.
“There were stages in the process where we were behind schedule, and we did think that unless things caught up we were going to have problems,” said Peter Dawson, the IGF president and retiring chief of the R&A. “We’ve increasingly grown in confidence, and I’m delighted to say we’re now very confident.”
The IGF had hoped to stage a test event in November but now thinks it would be better to take advantage of another prime summer growing season in Brazil. Also, the clubhouse and other support buildings are still under construction, so pushing back such an event would provide a chance to try out all facets of the facility before the Olympics.
IGF Vice President Ty Votaw said officials are trying to arrange a one-day exhibition during the first three months of 2016.
“We’re in the process of working with world-class players on both the men’s and women’s side of the game, to look at that schedule and what would work best for all the various tours around the world to make that happen,” Votaw said.
QUOTABLE: “Even the rust is rusty.” — three-time British Open champion Nick Faldo, who is largely retired as a player but will tee it up this week at age 57.
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