Open Day 1 Round Up
Zach Johnson fired a sensational 66 at a sun-scorched Muirfield to take the first-round lead in The Open. The American was out early in the day when the course was at its best.
Tiger Woods had to take a penalty drop at the first hole and struggled from tee to green throughout, but he putted magnificently all day and was pleased with his round of 69. When Woods won at Hoylake, he did so without using his driver, and it seems that he is determined to employ the same tactic this week.
On what appeared to be a perfect day for scoring, there were plenty of disasters, and many of the sport's superstars had opening rounds they will want to forget. Rory McIlroy admitted after his 79 that he needed help with his mind, saying he felt unconscious on the course.
Luke Donald, one of the favourites, needs a miracle if he is to make the cut. Wayward driving and poor putting left the Englishman struggling to break 80.
Justin Rose was another who had a day to forget. The US Open champion arrived in Scotland bursting with confidence but struggled from the start. He did well to restrict the damage to a 75.
Like Woods, Johnson putted beautifully to make his score, but he has a late tee time tomorrow and will have face trickier conditions.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Mark O'Meara are one behind Johnson. Don't write off O'Meara, the winner in 1998. He may well be a Champions Tour regular, but he will draw inspiration from the performances of Tom Watson and Greg Norman in recent years.
Miguel Angel Jimenez looked likely to be up with Johnson, but frittered a few shots away towards the end of his round. Nevertheless, a 69 leaves him in good shape to become the oldest winner of the modern era. The Spaniard is 49 and last year won the Hong Kong Open, to become the oldest ever winner on the European Tour.
"I wasn't happy not to make a birdie on the par-five 17th," he said. "I'm hitting the ball really well and I feel very comfortable. The only thing you have to do is enjoy yourself.
"I am 49 now and I don't know how much longer I can compete on tour, but I would love to win a major and I will keep trying to do so."
Lee Westwood, who shot a 72, said: "It is very hot and the course is now baked hard, so there are lots of bad bounces out there. I felt jaded earlier in the season but I had three weeks off and feel fresh now."
Ian Poulter, who was two under par after 13 holes had four bogeys in the final five holes. After finishing his round, a furious Poulter went on Twitter to say: "The eighth hole was a joke, and the 18th needs a windmill and a clown face. Beyond angry at the moment." He finished with a 72.
Image Credit: Copyright of Kevin Diss Golf Photography
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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