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QUICK TAKE: Kisner (66) Gets His Kicks At Carnoustie

Kevin Kisner fired an opening 66 Thursday at Carnoustie. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff)

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND | Put Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler together in adjacent houses not far from Carnoustie and how do they spend their downtime in the evenings at the Open Championship?

Do they compare major-championship trophies because they have eight among them?


Is it all golf talk all the time?

They’ve spent a big chunk of their time playing soccer in the backyard.

Dufner is the goalkeeper and the others take turn firing shots at him.

“I just try to smash Duf in the face,” said Kisner, who was the surprise early leader at Carnoustie after shooting 5-under-par 66 before lunchtime Thursday.

Fowler said he hasn’t been a big part of the soccer play time because he’s wearing flip-flops around the house but Spieth and Johnson have shown themselves to be fairly adept with their feet.

“Zach is sneaky,” Fowler said. “He’s strong.”

Kisner has been impressed by all of his housemates and neighbors.

“The thing that impresses me with all those guys is, when you’re out here and grew up with all your buddies, you’re pretty much the best at everything,” Kisner said. “When you get around those guys, everybody is really good.

“It’s pretty cool to watch how athletic those guys are … except Duf.”

Not true, Kisner admitted.

“Duf is pretty solid in goal,” he said.

None of the group was better Thursday than Kisner, who needed just 22 putts to get around Carnoustie and post his best start in the Open Championship.

In his most recent start at the Greenbrier, Kisner said his ballstriking finally came around after being ragged much of the year but he putted unusually poorly. He made a small adjustment in his setup and put in extra time preparing for slower-than-normal putting surfaces. It all came together in the soft conditions Thursday.

Kisner made two 35-foot putts, a 40-footer and two other medium-length putts to separate himself. One day in, Kisner feels good about himself, figuring his early finish would give him first dibs at dinnertime and a shot of confidence at a place he likes.

“If you don’t believe in yourself out here, you’re going to get run over pretty quick,” Kisner said. “I’m pretty sure everybody has a lot of self belief or we wouldn’t be doing it.

“The course is great for me. Going forward, you never know what you’re going to have in Scotland. I don’t think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day but I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.

“If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot.”        

At Dufner and the Claret Jug.

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