Who will Win the Open Championship?
Former champions Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth made brilliant starts as the delayed 149th Open proved well worth the wait at Royal St George’s.
Oosthuizen, who won at St Andrews in 2010 and lost a play-off at the same venue five years later, carded a flawless six-under-par 64 to enjoy a one-shot lead over Spieth and Brian Harman, with 2009 champion Stewart Cink, Mackenzie Hughes and Dylan Frittelli a shot further back.
Former Masters champion Danny Willett led the early home challenge on three under alongside Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan, who made the most of his late call-up into the year’s final major after a number of players withdrew.
Already a runner-up in all four major championships, Oosthuizen took his unwanted total of near misses to six by finishing second in both the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and the US Open at Torrey Pines this season.
But the 38-year-old South African had pledged not to make any drastic changes to his approach and calmly went about his business with a hat-trick of birdies from the eighth followed by further gains on the 13th, 14th and 16th.
Spieth, who claimed his first victory since winning the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale in his native Texas in April, bogeyed the third but bounced back with four straight birdies from the fifth and also picked up shots on the 15th and 16th.
The former world number one fell to 92nd in the world rankings following a missed cut in his first event of the season, but the 27-year-old has since recorded six top 10s in strokeplay events, including a tie for third in the Masters.
Playing partner Bryson DeChambeau made too many visits to the rough he had labelled “pretty diabolical” as he laboured to an opening 71, afterwards blaming his equipment. Relive all the action from the first round below:
THE OPEN 2021: DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
Thanks very much for joining us on day one at Royal St George’s. We’ll bring you all the live action tomorrow, but until then here’s a reminder of how things stand after 18 holes.
-4: Hughes, Frittelli, Cink, Hebert, Simpson
-3: Sullivan, Harding, Willett, Senior, Rose, Scheffler, An, Morikawa, Siem, Fleetwood
Selected others: Garcia (-2), Koepka (-1), McIlroy (E), DeChambeau (+1), Lowry (+1), Rahm (+1), Mickelson (+10)
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 20:45
THE OPEN 2021: MCILROY FINISHES WITH A BIRDIE
It’s been a valiant comeback from Rory McIlroy, who birdies the last to finish on level par after such a volatile front nine. He has hope yet of mounting a charge tomorrow. Here is our report from today’s action on day one at Royal St George’s.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 20:10
THE OPEN 2021: HERBERT DELIGHTED WITH FINE START
Lucas Herbert is something of a surprise package near the top of the leaderboard as the Australian carded a fine opening round of 66.
“I’m feeling great for sure. It’s probably one of the best rounds I’ve had this year, so it’s really — yeah, enjoying the day for sure,” he said. “It was pretty hard. A lot of wind, some tricky pins, but I managed pretty well the course, and I’m happy for sure.”
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 20:02
THE OPEN 2021: FLEETWOOD FINISHES ON 67
Tommy Fleetwood birdies the last! He finishes on three-under-par and that’s a terrific start from the 2019 runner-up.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 19:50
THE OPEN 2021: SCHAUFFELE FINISHES AT -1
Schauffele had to grind through that opening round but the world No 5 hung in there and is certainly still in contention at -1. Rickie Fowler, whose loss of form has been so well documented, has cause for promise as he too finishes with a 69.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 19:47
THE OPEN 2021: MICKELSON FINISHES ON 80
A chastening round for PGA champion Phil Mickelson finally comes to a merciful end. A 10-over-par 80 was the worst performance in the entire field today.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 19:35
THE OPEN 2021: MCILROY BACK TO +1
McIlroy’s eagle putt at the 14th stops agonisingly short of the hole but that’s still one shot clawed back. He’s now at +1 and still has time to change his fortunes. Up ahead at 16, Tommy Fleetwood finds the green safely. He’s playing well and sits at -2 alongside several big-name players, including world No 1 Dustin Johnson.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 19:12
THE OPEN 2021: SIMPSON MOVES TO -4
Webb Simpson, as he often does, is quietly creeping up the leaderboard. A birdie at the par-5 14th takes the American to -4 and just two shots back of the lead. Elsewhere, Marcel Siem’s terrific tee-shot at the par-3 16th leaves a tap-in birdie and the German goes to -3.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 18:57
THE OPEN 2021: MCILROY REMAINS AT +2
A good birdie chance sails by for McIlroy at the 12th and he remains at +2. Schauffele is struggling to find a breakthrough and is grinding along at even par, while Thomas and Reed are both labouring at +1.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 18:34
THE OPEN 2021: MORIKAWA CLOSES ON 67
Morikawa is in the clubhouse at -3 and could well be a contender over the weekend. The same can’t be said for McIlroy at present, though. The Northern Irishman has bogeyed the par-3 11th and is back to +2.
Tom Kershaw15 July 2021 18:23