Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson — playing on opposite sides of the draw — both fired 2-under 69s in the opening round of the 142nd Open Championship, sitting three shots behind Zach Johnson at Muirfield.
Of course, there were still scores like the 8-over 79 from Rory McIlroy and an 80 from Luke Donald.
Keep up with first-round British Open highlights here – and scroll down for preview coverage as well.
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Update #44: 3:19 p.m. EDT
Let’s recap the five highest-ranked Open contestants as set by the Official World Golf Ranking:
- Tiger Woods: T-9, 2-under 69
- Rory McIlroy: T-137, 8-over 79
- Justin Rose: T-78, 4-over 75
- Adam Scott: T-21, even-par 71
- Phil Mickelson: T-9, 2-under 69
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Update #43: 2:45 p.m. EDT
Shiv Kapur, who charged to the lead earlier with six birdies on his first seven holes, cards his another bogey at No. 14. He’s 3 over for the back nine with a double bogey at No. 10, T-4 at 3 under for the day.
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No. 18, Par 4, 470 yards
A par here would give Tiger a solid finish to his round and get himself within three of the lead heading into tomorrow’s second round.
• Off the tee: With fairway metal, Tiger sends his ball a bit left, finding the rough. He hit 10 of 14 fairways on Thursday.
• Approach shot: Out of the long stuff, Tiger takes a slash at it and leaves it about 15 yards short of the green. Good look at the hole for his third.
• Around the green: Putting from off the green, Tiger leaves himself about 6 feet to save par.
• On the green: And he buries it to shoot a 2-under 69 in very tough conditions on the greens.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under (thru 18)
• Elsewhere on the course: Back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 15-16 drop Hunter Mahan to 1 over; he steadies himself with pars at Nos. 17 and 18 to finish at 1 over. Mahan had a strong showing at the U.S. Open at Merion. As is typical for a major, some big names are running into trouble. Here are a few notable struggles:
- 6-over 77: Bill Haas, Vijay Singh
- 7-over 78: Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Russell Henley
- 8-over 79: Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy
- 9-over 80: Luke Donald, Lucas Glover
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No. 17, Par 5, 575 yards
That was a well-played hole by Tiger, as the pin is not one you can attack. Now, to the last par 5. Tiger has two pars on the previous par-5s today.
• Off the tee: With iron in hand, Tiger hits a bullet that runs down the fairway. Earlier this week, Tiger had said that his 3-iron was going as far as 300 yards due to roll.
• Second shot: Tiger ropes a long iron that simply runs up onto the green, settling about 20 feet past the flag and setting up a great eagle opportunity.
• On the green: Tiger’s eagle attempt goes left of the target, setting up a 2-footer for birdie. He taps that in for his fourth birdie on the back nine.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under (thru 17)
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No. 16, Par 3, 186 yards
According to the morning wave, the last three holes play difficult, so Tiger would do good to get through them at even to get into the clubhouse in red numbers.
• Off the tee: Very difficult hole location on the right and Tiger goes off the back of the green. Will do well to two-putt this one.
• Around the green: A great lag putt here, leaving it about 3 feet left of the hole.
• On the green: He studies this one and makes the putt to save par. Solid hole there.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 16)
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No. 15, Par 4, 448 yards
Tiger won’t like that three-putt at No. 14, but again it could have been worse. He is making sure to keep his worse score to bogey.
• Off the tee: With fairway metal, Tiger pounds it down the throat of the fairway to put himself in good position.
• Approach shot: Tiger hits a high shot that finds the green, but gets no run and he’ll have 40 feet for birdie.
• On the green: Beautiful birdie attempt that settles a foot to the right of the hole and he picks up a nice par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 15)
• Elsewhere on the course: Shiv Kapur misses a 4-foot bogey putt at No. 10. The Purdue product drops to T-2 at 4 under alongside Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Mark O’Meara.
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No. 14, Par 4, 475 yards
Birdies on three of the first holes on the back nine was not something Tiger could have banked on, but he is hitting greens in regulation and that allows him to take chances.
• Off the tee: Another iron here for Tiger, and another ball in the middle of the fairway.
• Approach shot: From 240 yards, Tiger runs his second shot up onto the edge of the green and will have 50 feet to the hole. Solid play.
• On the green: Tiger putts his ball off the green and has 30 feet to save par. Just hit it a couple feet too hard and then it found a slope. He misses the comebacker and leaves himself 5 feet for a bogey. He makes it for a bogey, but is still in the red.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 14)
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No. 13, Par 3, 190 yards
That’s three big sand saves for Tiger today, with the first leading to a bogey after an unplayable tee ball. This last one keeps his momentum going.
• Off the tee: Another nice tee ball here, putting it about 25 feet beyond the hole. Dangerous hole, so holding the green is big.
• On the green: And Tiger picks up yet another birdie, his third in the last four holes. Even a putter lift on this one.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 under (thru 13 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Leader Shiv Kapur’s second par of the day comes at No. 8 – usually in an Open Championship that would be a sign of struggles, but he’s 6 under and a shot ahead of Zach Johnson.
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No. 12, Par 4, 379 yards
Birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 are big because they haven’t been birdie holes today. Moves to a shorter par 4 now, shouldn’t need more than iron.
• Off the tee: A stinger with an iron here and it just runs down the fairway, stopping in the middle.
• Approach shot: Tiger loses this one a bit to the right and finds a bunker and will have an awkward stance.
• Around the green: With one foot in the bunker and his other knee on the ground, Tiger plays an incredible shot to about 6 feet right of the hole.
• On the green: And another huge par save, as he puts it in the heart of the cup. That one was big.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 12)
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No. 11, Par 4, 387 yards
After no birdie on No. 9, coming back with one at No. 10 was a big deal for Tiger. Needs to maintain being around par before he gets an earlier tee time tomorrow, which should provide a more scoreable course.
• Off the tee: With iron in hand, Tiger hits another fairway and the ball runs quite a bit down the right side of the fairway.
• Approach shot: Another good second shot, getting the ball to stop under the hole with a bit of spin and will have 12 feet for another birdie.
• On the green: And another one for Tiger, as he calmly posts his third birdie of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 11)
• Elsewhere on the course: Six birdies in seven holes to start the Open Championship? Practically unthinkable. Yet Shiv Kapur has gotten off to exactly that hot a start at Muirfield to take the lead by a shot. Twice, Kapur has made three consecutive birdies.
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No. 10, Par 4, 469 yards
That’s two pars on the par-5s, which is not Tiger-like, although the 9th is definitely playing a bit tougher.
• Off the tee: With fairway metal, Tiger again finds the fairway, with the ball just running and running down the middle.
• Approach shot: Tiger hits another nice shot into the green, getting it to about 12 feet beyond the hole.
• On the green: And he drains this one for his second birdie of the day, sending him back to even for the tournament.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 10)
• Elsewhere on the course: Shiv Kapur birdies No. 5 and No. 6 to move into a tie for the lead at 5 under. The former Purdue golfer finished T-10 at the European Tour’s Lyoness Open in June. Kapur has twice chipped in for birdie today. Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth birdies the 17th to move to 2 under.
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No. 9, Par 5, 554 yards
You aren’t going to have many short birdie putts today, so that miss on No. 8 will hurt Tiger at some point.
• Off the tee: Tiger finds the right rough with fairway wood, but the ball is sitting up. Likely a three-shot hole anyways.
• Second shot: Definitely no chance to get after it, so Tiger simply advances it down the left side of the fairway.
• Approach shot: Tiger puts it safely on the green, but will have about 30 feet for birdie.
• On the green: Tiger’s birdie attempt is offline and leaves himself a tough par putt. He does make the par putt to make the turn at 1 over.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 9)
• Elsewhere on the course: Playing in the group with Tiger, Louis Oosthuizen has withdrawn from the tournament due to a neck injury. Read Alex Miceli’s explanation from last night here. Mark O’Meara finishes with a par for a 67 that sends him to the clubhouse at 4 under, one shot back of leader Zach Johnson. O’Meara made the turn at 5 under, wobbled with three bogeys in his next six holes and eagled No. 17 to regain some lost ground.
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No. 8, Par 4, 441 yards
Tiger has been playing solid for the most part, but his two mistakes have cost him. Just like it should in a major.
• Off the tee: Another fairway hit here, right down the throat as the ball runs forever.
• Approach shot: An incredible shot here, as he gets his second shot from 160 yards to about 3 feet behind the hole. Slick putt upcoming.
• On the green: Too slick for a birdie, as he doesn’t start it far enough left and he settles for a par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 8)
• Elsewhere on the course: Mark O’Meara, the Open winner in 1998, gets back to 4 under, one shot back of leader Zach Johnson, with an eagle at the 17th. O’Meara is T-2 alongside Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
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No. 7, Par 3, 184 yards
Muirfield will definitely bite you at times, and the 6th hole was one of those cases for Tiger.
• Off the tee: Tiger flights a nice ball here that finds the green and leaves himself 25 feet for birdie.
• On the green: With an uphill putt, Tiger can be aggressive and he misses by 6 inches to the right of the hole. An easy par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 7)
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No. 6, Par 4, 461 yards
Tiger will need to take advantage of par-5s this week, so that par on No. 5 will be disappointing for him.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes fairway wood and splits the fairway again. He has hit 3 of 5 fairways thus far.
• Approach shot: Tiger hits what looks like a great shot, but the ball hits hard again and bounds past the hole and to the right. Will be a difficult up-and-down.
• Around the green: A bad bump-and-run leaves the ball short of the green and it funnels back into the rough. Hitting his fourth, he barely gets it there again, but it sticks about 10 feet from the hole.
• On the green: Tiger picks up another one-putt to save bogey, which is solid considering how the ball bounded off the green.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 6)
• Elsewhere on the course: Mark O’Meara joins a growing group of afternoon golfers at 2 under, carding back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 14-15. Sergio Garcia, however, drops out of the 2-under group with a bogey at No. 8. Two big names have gotten to 2 under early in their rounds, three shots off leader Zach Johnson’s pace. Sergio Garcia has birdies at Nos. 3 and 6 and Hunter Mahan has back-to-back birdies at Nos. 4-5. Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth, who won last week’s John Deere Classic in dramatic fashion, is 1 under through 13 holes, with eight straight pars.
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No. 5, Par 5, 559 yards
That’s three one-putts in four holes, the last one leading to a birdie for Tiger. Now to the first par 5 of the day.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes out fairway wood again, and he hits the middle of the fairway, but it bounds into the first cut of rough. Still should be able to get at the green in two.
• Second shot: Tiger takes long iron from about 250 yards and he comes up just short of the green, but in a good spot to get up-and-down for birdie.
• Third shot: Tiger chooses to chip and he sends it about 10 feet right of the hole. Not his best.
• On the green: Tiger’s birdie attempt runs past under the hole and goes 4 feet past. He makes the putt to stay even.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 5)
• Elsewhere on the course: Martin Laird, who finished T-5 in last week’s Scottish Open, birdies No. 9 to make the turn in 33. Laird is 3 under, two back of leader Zach Johnson.
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No. 4, Par 3, 226 yards
Tiger doesn’t have a birdie to show for it, but his play thus far has been solid outside of his opening tee ball.
• Off the tee: Tiger hits a great tee ball here, hitting at the front of the green and it runs about 30 yards to the back, where the flag is.
• On the green: Another one-putt for Tiger and he picks up his first birdie of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 4)
• Elsewhere on the course: Mark O’Meara, the low man still on the course, cards his third straight par to remain 4 under, a shot back of leader Zach Johnson. O’Meara has won $625,787 on the Champions Tour this year and missed two cuts on the PGA Tour.
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No. 3: Par 4, 377 yards
There is some Twitter buzz about the legality of Tiger’s drop on No. 1. We’ll keep you up-to-date if it should become something of note. On TV, it looked legal.
• Off the tee: Another iron, another fairway. A very smooth swing from Tiger there, with the ball just running down the fairway.
• Approach shot: Tiger takes dead aim at the flag, but the ball hits the green like it is concrete and bounds into a bunker on the back. Going to be a tough up-and-down.
• Around the green: Another great sand shot. With his legs and butt up against the wall of the bunker, the ball is very close to him, but he manages to put it 3 feet left of the cup.
• On the green: Another solid putt here and he saves par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 3)
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No. 2: Par 4, 364 yards
It’s not the first time Tiger has started horribly at a major, although saving bogey there should be a positive for the World No. 1.
• Off the tee: Tiger hits his first fairway of the tee, using iron to set himself up nicely at the short par 4.
• Approach shot: Tiger hits a nice second shot here, getting it to sit about 10 feet under the hole.
• On the green: Tiger narrowly misses this one, sliding by on the left and he settles for a par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 2)
• Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson two-putts the 18th green for a 5-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead over Rafael Cabrera-Bello in the clubhouse. Mark O’Meara is also at 4 under and is on the 12th hole.
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No. 1: Par 4, 447 yards
Tiger is outfitted with a white and black shirt and black pants today. The weather is ideal, although the course is playing fast.
• Off the tee: Tiger way overcooks his tee ball, finding the very long rough on the left. Horrible start for the World No. 1.
• Second/third shots: Tiger takes an unplayable lie and drops behind in some trampled hay. He hits a solid shot from the junk that finds a greenside bunker.
• Around the green: Tiger hits a fantastic ball out of the bunker that settles about 3 feet to the right of the cup.
• On the green: He knocks in the bogey putt, which is nearly a miracle after the bad tee ball.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 1)
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Update #42: 9:43 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Phil Mickelson lays back off the tee and hits a great approach to about 15 feet beyond the hole. The birdie attempt hits the right lip and feeds out. He misses the 5-footer coming back and posts a 2-under 69. Rory McIlroy finishes with a bogey after a poor drive and second shot, carding an 8-over 79.
Elsewhere on the course: Adam Scott three-putts for bogey on No. 2 and is 1 over for his round.
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Update #41: 9:30 a.m. EDT
Elsewhere on the course: Mark O’Meara has joined Zach Johnson at 5 under after making a 3-footer for birdie on No. 9 to make the turn in 31, the best of the day thus far. Meanwhile, Brandt Snedeker cards a 3-under 68 despite a double on No. 6 and bogey on No. 7, playing the back nine in 3 under.
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Update #40: 9:26 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Phil Mickelson doesn’t resolve his par-5 woes here, hitting his second shot into a bunker, playing his third to about 20 feet and then missing the big left-to-right putt, settling for a third par on the par-5s on Thursday. He remains at 3 under, two off the lead.
Elsewhere on the course: Amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, a Northwestern commit for the fall, is 2 under through five holes and just three shots off the pace. Meanwhile, Bubba Watson gets to the clubhouse at 1-under 70 after an eagle at the par-5 17th.
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Update #39: 9:02 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Phil Mickelson plays the par-3 16th very solidly, getting the green about 30 feet under the hole, hits a nice birdie putt to about 2 feet and picks up another par to stay at 3 under. He now moves to the last par 5 of the day. He is even on par-5s on the day.
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Update #38: 8:55 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: This has quickly become the Phil Mickelson Show, as he adds another birdie — his fourth of the day — at the par-4 15th to move to 3 under, two off the lead. Rory McIlroy literally putts his birdie attempt off the green and into a bunker, leading to a double bogey and is now 6 over for the day.
Elsewhere on the course: Former Open champ Mark O’Meara has four birdies in his opening seven holes to move into a tie for second at 4 under with Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is already in the clubhouse. Tom Watson closes out his round with a par for a 4-over 75, Nick Faldo struggles to an 8-over 79 and Fred Couples also shoots a 4-over 75.
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Update #37: 8:46 a.m. EDT
Elsewhere on the course: Dustin Johnson leaves his birdie putt about 18 inches short on the 18th hole and must settle for a 3-under 68, currently two shots back of Zach Johnson. The latter Johnson picked up his first bogey of the day at the par-4 14th after finding a greenside bunker that he was barely able to get out of.
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Update #36: 8:29 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Phil Mickelson hits a nice approach from nearly 240 yards at the par-4 14th and makes an 8-footer for birdie to move to 2 under, but still four off the lead. Rory McIlroy hits an even better approach, but misses a 6-footer from the left of the hole and settles for par to stay at 4 over.
Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson buries a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 12th and follows it with a two-putt par from 15 feet to move to 6 under, two clear of Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is in the clubhouse with a 67. Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson takes advantage of his distance at the par-5 17th and makes a 20-foot, left-to-right eagle putt to move back to 3 under.
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Update #35: 8:07 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Rory McIlroy hits an outstanding tee ball into the par-3 13th, settling about 6 feet to the right of the cup. He makes the putt to move to 4 over on the round. Phil Mickelson picks a two-putt par and has not picked up a birdie since the third hole.
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Update #34: 7:53 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Rory McIlroy continues to struggle, overcooking his second shot at the par-4 12th, not hitting his chip hard enough with his third and the ball funneling back to him and then sending his fourth about 30 feet past the hole. He two-putts from there for a double and falls to 5 over on the round. Mickelson plays the 12th straight forward and two-putts for a par to remain at 1 under, four shots back of Zach Johnson.
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Update #33: 7:49 a.m. EDT
Elsewhere on the course: Rafael Cabrera-Bello makes a 6-footer to save par on the 18th to card a 4-under 67 and take over the clubhouse lead. He still trails Zach Johnson by one after the American drained an 18-footer to save par on the par-4 10th.
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Update #32: 7:42 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: After nearly draining a long-distance birdie attempt at No. 11, Phil Mickelson simply settles for a par to stay at 1 under. Rory McIlroy continues to struggle with his putter, missing a 5-footer to save par and he drops back to 3 over.
Elsewhere on the course: Miguel Angel Jimenez is in the clubhouse with a 3-under 68 after a nice up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the 18th. That’s currently T-3, behind Rafael Cabrera-Bello (4 under through 17) and Zach Johnson (5 under through nine). Ian Poulter is looking solid through his opening 12 holes, picking up three birdies and a single bogey (on the difficult par-4 1st hole) to sit at 2 under.
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Update #31: 7:20 a.m. EDT
Elsewhere on the course: With a bogey on the par-4 12th, Dustin Johnson has handed Zach Johnson a two-shot lead at Muirfield. Dustin Johnson falls back into a tie for second with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Steven Tiley. Tiley has played in three previous Open Championships, making the cut only once, in 2010 at St. Andrews.
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Update #30: 7:11 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: It’s rare, but Phil Mickelson will head to the back nine at 1 under having not taken advantage of either the par-5 5th or 9th. On the 9th, Mickelson missed a 30-footer for birdie, instead tapping in for par. Rory McIlroy also pars and makes the turn at 1-over 37.
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Update #29: 7:01 a.m. EDT
Wow, we don’t know who is going to pick up this bill, but Thomas Bjorn broke an $80,000 ESPN camera with an errant shot on No. 1. Watch it happen here.
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Update #28: 6:59 a.m. EDT
Elsewhere on the course: And we have a new leader, as Zach Johnson makes a 5-footer on the par-3 7th, just sneaking it in on the right edge, to move to 5 under, one clear of Dustin Johnson. Both Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rafael Cabrera-Bello have dropped back to 3 under.
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Update #27: 6:32 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: It took seven holes, but Rory McIlroy finally picks up his first birdie, hitting a great tee ball at the par-3 7th to about 6 feet, and then making the delicate left-to-right putt to move to 1 over. Mickelson hits the green, only to see the ball funnel back off the front, where he chips the ball to about 4 feet and makes the putt to stay at 2 under.
Elsewhere on the course: Zach Johnson is the third player to make eagle at the par-5 5th, lifting him to 3 under and in solo fourth, one shot back of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Dustin Johnson.
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Update #26: 6:20 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: A fairway and green in regulation for Phil Mickelson, and then a solid two-putt from 20 feet keeps him at 2 under and two off the lead. Both McIlroy (2 over) and Matsuyama (1 under) follow suit.
Elsewhere on the course: Dustin Johnson makes a 5-footer for birdie on the par-5 ninth to make the turn in 4-under 32, tied for the lead with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Johnson has barely hit over half of his fairways, but is averaging 1.9 strokes per green, leading to four birdies and no bogeys. Meanwhile, 2004 champion Todd Hamilton makes an 8-footer for par on the 18th hole to card a 2-under 69, currently the low round in the clubhouse.
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Update #25: 6:03 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Mickelson finds the long rough off the tee, lays up, puts his third to about 15 feet, but misses the birdie putt and settles for a par at the par-5 5th to stay at 2 under. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy finds a greenside bunker with his second, has to hit it against the bank to get it out, his fourth settles 5 feet to the right, but he misses and picks up a second consecutive bogey to drop to 2 over.
Elsewhere on the course: Nick Watney picks up an eagle at the par-5 5th and moves to 2 under on the day, two back of Miguel Angel Jimenez. Todd Hamilton also moves to 2 under with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
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Update #24: 5:48 a.m. EDT
Rose-Els-Snedeker: Brandt Snedeker finds trouble in a greenside bunker at No. 6, has to send it back to the fairway and then can’t get up-and-down for bogey, falling back to even behind the double.
Elsewhere on the course: Dustin Johnson drains a 15-footer on No. 8 for birdie to move to 3 under and tied for second, one back of Miguel Angel Jimenez, who bogeys the par-4 12th after finding the long rough off the tee. Rafael Cabrera-Bello drained a birdie putt on No. 11 to move back to 3 under.
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Update #23: 5:43 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Hideki Matsuyama misses the green and pays dearly with his first bogey to fall back to even. Meanwhile, McIlroy three-putts from 25 feet for his first bogey and he falls to 1 over. Mickelson two-putts from 30 feet to stay at 2 under.
Elsewhere on the course: 2004 champ Todd Hamilton is 1 under through 16 holes, playing his last nine holes in 2 under.
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Update #22: 5:29 a.m. EDT
Rose-Els-Snedeker: Brandt Snedeker also has his putter going early, making a 10-footer at the par-5 5th for birdie to move to 2 under. Meanwhile, Justin Rose tries to go after the green in two, only to find the rough well short of the green. He manages to get down for par, his fifth consecutive one to open the day.
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Update #21: 5:21 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: Phil Mickelson has his putter going early, carding another birdie after a nice second shot to about 10 feet at the par-4 3rd. He’s now in a five-way tie for second. Rory McIlroy has a chance to get into the red, but misses an 8-footer and stays at even.
Elsewhere on the course: Back-to-back birdies for Fred Couples at Nos. 4 and 5 push him to 1 under and four off the lead. Playing competitor Tom Watson picks up his first birdie of the day at No. 5 to get to 1 over. Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Jimenez has opened a three-shot lead over Jimmy Walker, Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello after the latter bogeys the par-5 9th.
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Update #20: 5:12 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: All three players split the fairway, with Hideki Matsuyama delivering the best approach to about 2 feet left of the cup, which he taps in to get into red figures. Mickelson gets his to 5 feet under the hole and makes the birdie putt to move to 1 under. McIlroy two-putts for a par.
Elsewhere on the course: Dustin Johnson is 2 under through five after a birdie at the tough opening hole and another at the par-5 5th.
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Update #19: 4:59 a.m. EDT
Mickelson-McIlroy-Matsuyama: McIlroy finds the long rough off the tee, a greenside bunker with his second, but hits a superb sand shot to 3 feet and saves par. Mickelson is the only one to find the fairway, pushes his second shot into the left rough, chips about 20 feet past the hole, but buries the putt for a par. Matsuyama is the only one to find the green in regulation and two-putts for par.
Rose-Els-Snedeker: Brandt Snedeker hits his second shot to about 2 feet and he moves to 1 under through three holes. Rose (even) and Els (1 over) both par.
Elsewhere on the course: Miguel Angel Jimenez makes the turn at 5-under 31 after a birdie at the par-5 9th, recovering from a second shot into a bunker with a magnificent long sand shot to about 8 feet. Fred Couples picks up his first birdie of the day at No. 4 to move back to even.
• • •
Update #18: 4:48 a.m. EDT
Faldo-Couples-T. Watson: Nick Faldo picks up the group’s first birdie, making a 5-footer at No. 3 to move back to 1 over. Couples misses a 25-footer to save par and drops to 1 over.
Rose-Els-Snedeker: Big save at No. 2 for Brandt Snedeker, who hits his first putt a bit too firmly and has to make a 6-footer to remain at even. Ernie Els (1 over) and Justin Rose (Even) also par with two-putts.
Leaderboard update: Miguel Angel Jimenez has to work for his third consecutive par, making a 5-footer from the left of the hole at No. 8 to remain at 4 under, still one clear of Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
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Update #17: 4:35 a.m. EDT
Faldo-Couples-T. Watson: Faldo opens with back-to-back bogeys, missing a 5-footer for par on the par-4 2nd to drop to 2 over. Watson starts with a bogey after finding the long rough, but pars No. 2 with a two-putt from 20 feet. Couples saves par on both holes with 4-footers.
Rose-Els-Snedeker: Both Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker get up-and-down from off the green at No. 1 for par, while Ernie Els has to hit out of the long stuff to the left of the green, sends it 30 feet past and two-putts for bogey.
Leaderboard update: Oliver Fisher picks up double bogey on the par-3 13th to drop back to 1 under, three behind Miguel Angel Jimenez.
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Update #16: 4:13 a.m. EDT
What’s in the water in Spain? Rafael Cabrera-Bello has put a second Spanish flag near the top of the leaderboard after his third birdie of the day — the latest at the par-5 5th — to move within a shot of Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Cabrera-Bello has two European Tour victories, including one in 2012. He finished T-81 at last year’s Open Championship and has only played in four majors for his career.
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Update #15: 4:09 a.m. EDT
Matteo Manassero will play alongside Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan on Thursday at 9:23 a.m. EDT. The young European star stopped by the media center on Wednesday, and had this preview of what he sees in front of him at Muirfield.
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Update #14: 4:02 a.m. EDT
• Miguel Angel Jimenez is simply on fire right now, picking up his fourth birdie in the opening five holes to take a two-shot lead over four others.
• The 4 a.m. starting time featured Fred Couples, Nick Faldo and Tom Watson. Faldo opened by finding the left rough, Watson followed by going into the right weeds, while Couples finds the right rough. No. 1 is playing as the most difficult hole on the course.
• • •
Update #13: 3:58 a.m. EDT
Some interesting tidbits from the course right now:
• After starting with a quadruple bogey, Brooks Koepka has rebounded with a birdie at No. 3 and an eagle at the par-5 5th. He also has the long drive of the day thus far at 348 yards.
• Perennial major contender Jason Day starts his round with a double-bogey 6, continuing the trend of No. 1 causing havoc. Day has five top-10 finishes in 11 major starts, including a T-2 at Merion in June.
• Lloyd Saltman opened with a quadruple bogey, picked up birdies at Nos. 3 and 4, only to bogey his final three holes on the front nine to sit at 5 over, currently worst of the 36 players that have completed at least one hole.
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Update #12: 3:48 a.m. EDT
Well, and just like that, Miguel Angel Jimenez is out front by himself after Mikko Ilonen triple bogeys the par-4 6th hole. Jimenez is 3 under through four holes, one ahead of Oliver Fisher, who picks up his fourth front-nine birdie at the par-5 ninth to make the turn at 2-under 34.
Jimenez is no stranger to starting fast in the Open, as he was the Round 1 leader in 2009, second in 2006, third in 2011 and fifth in 2001.
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Update #11: 3:42 a.m. EDT
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Mikko Ilonen have moved out front by themselves, with Jimenez picking up birdie on his first three holes before a par at No. 4.
Early leader Oliver Fisher picks up his second bogey in three holes to fall back to 1 under as part of the day’s first group.
There are nine players in red figures thus far today.
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Update #10: 3:12 a.m. EDT
Miguel Angel Jimenez didn’t have any problems with No. 1, becoming only the second person in the first 20 players to birdie the hole, and then followed it up with another birdie at No. 2 to move into a three-way tie atop the leaderboard.
Jimenez has slowly come back onto the scene after he sat out the beginning of the season due to an injury he suffered while skiing. Read Alistair Tait’s column about his return here.
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Update #9: 3:05 a.m. EDT
Oliver Fisher suffers his first slip of the day, picking up bogey at the par-4 6th hole to drop back to 2 under, now tied for the lead with Mikko Ilonen.
Ilonen is from Lahti, Finland and has three Euro Tour victories, including the Nordea Masters in June (read about it here). This is his fifth Open Championship appearance, with a T-9 in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes his best finish. He has made the cut in three of his previous four starts, including a T-50 in 2002 at Muirfield.
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Update #8: 2:55 a.m. EDT
With 20 players having completed the par-4 1st hole, the field is 18 over, including two quads and two triples.
Why is it so tough? Our Bradley S. Klein tells you why in his hole-by-hole of Muirfield.
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Update #7: 2:47 a.m. EDT
Wow, Oliver Fisher isn’t messing around this morning. After a par at No. 4, Fisher picks up his third birdie at the par-5 5th hole and is now 3 under, two ahead of amateur Ben Stow and Mikko Ilonen.
A little more background info on Fisher: He was the youngest Walker Cup member in GB&I history when named to the squad in 2005 at the age of 16. He also won the Faldo Series from 2003-2005.
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Update #6: 2:26 a.m. EDT
Well, not such a great start for young American Brooks Koepka either, as he becomes the second player to pick up quadruple bogey on the par-4 1st hole (Lloyd Saltman did so in the first group of the day).
Good news for Koepka? Saltman has managed two birdies over his next three holes, so there are birdies out there.
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Update #5: 2:21 a.m. EDT
There don’t seem to be an opening-round jitters for Oliver Fisher, who picks up his second birdie in the opening three holes to move to 2 under. Fisher has only one European Tour victory (2011, Czech Open) and missed the cut at the 2009 Open Championship.
Meanwhile, the par-4 1st claims another victim, as Bud Cauley starts his day with a triple-bogey 7.
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Update #4: 2:16 a.m. EDT
The third and fourth groups off the first tee feature Bud Cauley at 1:54 a.m. and Brooks Koepka at 2:05 a.m.
Cauley, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2012, has struggled mightily in 2013, missing 11 cuts in 20 starts, with only three top-25 finishes (no top 10s, however).
Meanwhile, Koepka, a Florida State product, has lit up the European scene, winning four times since joining the Challenge Tour at the end of 2012, subsequently earning his European Tour card right before last week’s Scottish Open. Read all about Koepka’s journey with Jim McCabe’s feature on the Florida native’s unique route to Muirfield.
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Update #3: 2:06 a.m. EDT
You never know when this might come up in trivia, but Oliver Fisher is the first one to card a birdie in the 2013 Open Championship, moving into the red with a 3 at the par-4 second hole. Peter Senior also birdies No. 2.
Former Open champ Todd Hamilton (2004, Royal Troon) opens his round with a par.
All players tee off at No. 1 at the Open Championship, which creates nearly 10 hours of tee times. With the sun out until nearly 10 p.m., folks at Muirfield don’t have to worry about darkness — unless pace of play is a major issue.
Let’s just hope the R&A is as serious about round length as the USGA and it’s cute “While We’re Young Campaign.” (Click here for the series of promo ads featuring Paula Creamer, Tiger Woods, Clint Eastwood and Arnold Palmer)
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Update #2: 1:53 a.m. EDT
Well, that wasn’t the start that Lloyd Saltman was looking for, picking up a quadruple bogey on the first hole, making Peter Senior feel a bit better about his double bogey at the par-4 1st.
Wonder how tough the course is? Our Bradley S. Klein takes you hole-by-hole in this in-depth breakdown of Muirfield.
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Update #1: 1:36 a.m. EDT
And, just like that, the Open Championship has officially started, as Peter Senior splits the first fairway. Senior has 31 professional victories, including four on the European Tour (the last coming in 1992). His best finish at an Open Championship is a T-4 in 1993 at Royal St. George’s.
• • •
Some showers will take place in the morning, with a 55% chance of rain, light winds expected and temps in the upper 60s, according to accuweather.com. Those conditions are forecast to last into the afternoon, with the high in the mid 70s. As Muirfield proved in 2002 with a freak storm, however, the unexpected can happen at any time.
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Tiger Woods is dead set against playing the week before a major, even if on those occasions when he did he won. Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, played poorly at this year’s Masters and will tell you it’s because he didn’t compete the week before.
Adam Scott knows that his Wednesday press conference could have had a much different feel if he hadn’t won the Masters in April. But Scott is a different man than the one that blew a four-shot lead at the 2012 Open Championship: He’s focused.
On a pleasant Wednesday on Scotland’s southeast coast, Rory McIlroy seemed light years removed from the comfort of his PGA Championship win. Smiles weren’t as plentiful, answers not as playful, body language not as carefree.
R&A chief Peter Dawson says that “as links courses go, (Muirfield is) a fair course. What you see is what you get.” Dawson and Muirfield officials break down the changes to the course since we last saw it at an Open Championship.
The R&A, in its news conference before the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, fielded questions regarding gender discrimination, drug testing and the Olympics.
After numerous struggles for equality worldwide it’s clear that at certain golf clubs in the U.K., discrimination is not only an accepted practice but one that is condoned by an organization and its chief executive.
It’s been 25 years since Seve Ballesteros’ final major victory, at the 1988 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. Here’s a look back at Seve’s triumph.
Fresh off his nude appearance in ESPN’s Body Issue, a fully-clothed Gary Players offers up insights on winning an Open Championship at Muirfield.
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The three-time Open Championship winner has been practicing with a new Nike VR_S Covert Tour at Muirfield.
Take a look at TaylorMade Golf’s symbol-filled logo for the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.
On the eve of the 2013 Open Championship, Ping brings a prototype of its first driving iron to Muirfield.
With the Open Championship fast approaching, our David Dusek sits down with the 2010 champion to discuss his equipment and approach to selecting gear.
• • •
While Tiger Woods says his left elbow is healthy, playing only nine-hole practice rounds might indicate that the injury is still the back of his mind. But on a course that likely won’t need driver, Woods is still a favorite due to his superior long-iron skills.
Tiger Woods is the favorite to win his 15th major championship and fourth Open Championship according to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas.
Fresh off a dramatic victory at the Scottish Open, Phil Mickelson enters this week’s Open Championship on an incredible high about his chances playing links golf.
Graeme McDowell has won three titles in his last eight worldwide starts. He missed the other five cuts. He’s also missed the cut after each of his victories. Muirfield might be the perfect solution to that problem for the 2010 U.S. Open champion.
2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose looks ahead to the Open Championship at Muirfield.
Brandt Snedeker is 32. That happens to be the same age as Adam Scott and Justin Rose were when they won the first two majors of the year. And Snedeker is a big believer in omens. Now the American just needs to go out and perform.
How does Ian Poulter prepare for the Open Championship? From getting his many outfits picked out ahead of time to his superstitions, Poulter’s pre-tournament routine is quite interesting.
• • •
Tiger Woods was ordered off the No. 10 tee at Muirfield on Monday by a marshal after the World No. 1 played the hole too early.
Phil Mickelson hit a backwards shot during a practice round Monday at Muirfield.
Golfweek columnist Jeff Rude is a betting man, and believes in omens – especially when it comes to his history with the Open Championship. So, you are in luck Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman.
Ernie Els officially handed back the coveted Claret Jug on Monday at Muirfield, handing over the impressive piece of silver to R&A CEO Peter Dawson.
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Our Alex Miceli gives you a bit of a history lesson on Muirfield, but quickly turns his attention to this year’s Open Championship, as Tiger Woods, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all hit the course on Sunday.
In his fifth installment of the Bulldog’s blog, our Alex Miceli visits St. Andrews, the ‘Home of Golf.’
In his fourth installment of the Bulldog’s blog, our Alex Miceli plays a round at Golfweek’s top-ranked GB&I course, Trump Scotland. Let’s just say it lived up to its hype.
Alex Miceli spent a day at Castle Stuart getting to know Paul McGinley, the Europeans’ next Ryder Cup captain.
Royal Dornoch plays just like it was designed back in the late 1800s, fitting for a club so keen with its history that it is establishing a program to investigate the history of sport and culture in the region.
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This will be the 16th time the R&A is setting up the Open Championship along the Firth of Forth. Here’s what you’ll see during what promises to be a compelling week on this par-71 layout that stretches 7,192 yards.
Our staff of experts took a look at the Open Championship field and made their predictions for a favorite, underdog to watch and the low amateur. To no surprise, Tiger Woods registered on a couple of radars.
Two weeks later, Jonas Blixt still doesn’t understand the criticism at Greenbrier; Keegan Bradley says Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are money; plus more in our notebook.
• What’s wrong with Rory? Quite a bit, stats indicate
Rory McIlroy’s latest bad patch – and he has had a few – has been punctuated by waning confidence, substandard short game and a tendency to hang his tee shots right with an inconsistent swing.
Tiger Woods gave an update on his left elbow injury in a release Saturday on his website, and also talked about the upcoming Open Championship at Muirfield.