Oosthuizen leads The Open with sweet 64
Former champions Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth set the pace in the first round of the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
Playing in front of packed grandstands, Oosthuizen, the winner in 2010, made six birdies in a flawless 64 to finish on six under par, one shot ahead of American Spieth, champion in 2017.
Brian Harman matched compatriot Spieth with a 65 to share second place, one clear of Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, South African Dylan Frittelli, Frenchman Benjamin Hebert and Americans Webb Simpson and Stewart Cink, another former champion.
Oosthuizen struck his irons beautifully to pick up three birdies around the turn and added three more on the closing holes to make a strong start to his bid for a second major title.
“Probably in my mind it was the perfect round I could have played, I didn’t make many mistakes,” Ooosthuizen said after signing for his six-under par round. “When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts. So, yeah, just a very good solid round.”
Spieth made four consecutive birdies from the fifth hole and sank a 12-foot putt on the 16th green to confirm his return to form.
Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan and Jack Senior all carded 67s along with Justin Harding, Marcel Siem, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and An Byeong-Hun.
It was a tough day for 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau who battled to a roller-coaster 71. The long-hitting American visited the treacherous rough on several occasions and made three bogeys on the front nine to drop back to one over. He appeared to have worked out the undulating fairways when he collected three consecutive birdies from the 12th, but two more dropped shots left him well off the pace.
After the round, DeChambeau took the unusual step of venting his frustration on his equipment manufacturer, Cobra, suggesting that his driver – a Radspeed model that has a 46-inch shaft and only 5 degrees of loft – ‘sucked’ after he spent large parts of the day hacking out from the rough. He later apologised for his comments, saying that they were ‘unprofessional’. Cobra’s tour operations manager Ben Schomin, who caddied for DeChambeau two weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, said that DeChambeau was “behaving like an 8-year-old that gets mad at you. He didn’t really mean to say it that harshly. He knows how much everyone bends over backwards for him, but it’s still not cool.”
World number one Dustin Johnson started with a 68 and defending champion Shane Lowry carded 71 playing with Oosthuizen and US Open champion Jon Rahm, whose 71 was spoiled by a double-bogey at the ninth.
Rory McIlroy ground out a level-par 70, mixing four birdies and four bogeys as the wind picked up late in the day, but the Northern Irishman’s problems paled beside those of Phil Mickelson. The 51-year-old American, who won this year’s PGA Championship to become the oldest major champion, racked up eight bogeys and a double-bogey at the last in an error-strewn 80, that left him 16 shots behind the leaders and heading for an early exit.
For the very latest scores from St George’s, visit www.theopen.com/leaderboard