The Open: Young leads after first round as McIlroy starts strongly

Two-time winner Tiger Woods endured a disastrous start



USA's Cameron Young tees off on the third during the first round. — Reuters
USA's Cameron Young tees off on the third during the first round. — Reuters

By AFP

Published: Fri 15 Jul 2022, 12:02 AM

Last updated: Fri 15 Jul 2022, 12:03 AM

Cameron Young of the United States stormed into the lead with an eight-under-par 64 in the first round of the 150th British Open at St Andrews on Thursday but Rory McIlroy sat just two strokes behind after an impressive start to his bid for the Claret Jug.

Young, the 25-year-old American, produced a flawless round featuring no bogeys and eight birdies.

That gave him a two-shot lead in the clubhouse from McIlroy, whose 66 included three straight birdies between the fifth and seventh holes.

Young, ranked 32nd in the world, finished tied third in this year’s PGA Championship and has now put himself in a strong position to be a contender into the weekend.

“I think any time you’re around the lead in a major championship or any PGA Tour event, frankly, you get more and more comfortable every time,” said Young, who first played the Old Course with his parents aged 13.

“Whether I’m leading by three or one or four back after today, I’ll sleep just fine.”

McIlroy was the favourite for the Claret Jug coming into the week and the Northern Irishman, who won the Open in 2014, lived up to his billing in the opening round. His 66, featuring just one dropped shot at the par-four 13th hole, matched his score in the opening round on his way to victory at Hoylake eight years ago.

“I need to go out tomorrow (and back up what I just did today. I think that’s important to do,” said the 33-year-old, who will not tee off until mid-afternoon on Friday.

“But again, this golf course isn’t going to change that much, I don’t think, between today and tomorrow in terms of conditions.”

Australia’s Cameron Smith sat in third place in the clubhouse after an opening 67.

Tiger Woods, twice an Open champion at St Andrews, was among the leading names who did not go out until the afternoon, and the 46-year-old endured a disastrous start.

He sent his approach to the first green into the Swilcan Burn and ending up with a double-bogey six. More dropped shots followed at the third and fourth.

The landmark staging of the world’s oldest golf tournament has not been able to escape the controversy caused by the breakaway LIV Series.

England’s Ian Poulter, one of 24 players in this week’s line-up who agreed to join the LIV series, was booed on the first tee as he went out early in the morning.

After being jeered by the galleries, he hit his tee shot way left and almost finished out of bounds on the far side of the 18th fairway.

However, he recovered to shoot a 69 in a round that included a mammoth eagle putt at the par-four ninth, and Poulter insisted he did not hear any jeers.

“I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest. All I heard was clapping,” said Poulter.

Former Open champion Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are also among the LIV series members at St Andrews.

Westwood shot a 68, while DeChambeau was one stroke back. Mickelson was even-par for the day.

Open organisers the R&A opted not to ban the players, in contrast to moves made by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

However, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers issued strong criticism of LIV, which offers prize money of $25 million for each 54-hole event, compared to a $14 million prize pot for this week’s Open.

The LIV model, he said on Wednesday, “is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money”.

Players in St Andrews this week are competing to succeed Collin Morikawa, the Californian who won the Claret Jug last year at Royal St George’s and started with a level-par 72 on Thursday.

England’s former US Open champion Justin Rose withdrew just before his scheduled tee-time due to a back injury, with his place taken by Rikuya Hoshino of Japan.

The course is hosting the championship for the 30th time, and the Open is expecting record attendances for the week of 290,000, meaning packed galleries for the first championship since the end of pandemic-related restrictions.


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