WATCH: Three Americans Share Open Championship Lead

Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar raced out to hot starts at Royal Birkdale. (Photo Credit: Hannah McKay, Reuters)

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND | What a leaderboard. Americans Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka handed in a couple of morning 65s.

Then, by way of keeping a long, long day well and truly alive, Matt Kuchar, out at 1:37 pm UK time, sped to the turn in 29 on his way to matching his compatriots’ 5-under par tally in the opening round of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Open Championship First Round
Jordan Spieth -5
Brooks Koepka -5
Matt Kuchar -5
Paul Casey -4
Charl Schwartzel -4
Ian Poulter -3
Justin Thomas -3
Richard Bland -3
Austin Connelly -3
Charley Hoffman -3
Rafael Cabrera-Bello -3


However, Paul Casey raised home hopes with a 66, which left him even with South African Charl Schwartzel and one ahead of two more Englishmen – Richard Bland and a revitalised Ian Poulter – in what is a six-strong group on 67.

Spieth gave himself 9 out of 10 for his performance – “tee-balls, ballstriking, short game and putting.” He also gave himself a proverbial pat on the back for the way he had approached this Open – a win in the Travelers Championship followed by a three-week break.

Koepka finished with the applause still ringing in his ears from a holed bunker shot at the 17th, while Kuchar’s outward 29 left him going easy on himself for a relatively lacklustre homeward 36. “A first-half 29 was a great way to start my British Open.”

Kuchar, who turned 39 just a month ahead of an event where middle-aged professionals have a habit of doing rather well, said that his secret was to have played in the Scottish Open last week.

On the Saturday there, when he had found himself hitting a 6-iron for a shot of no more than 120 yards, he had said to himself, ‘I’m glad I’m doing this.’ “It was a perfect tune-up.”

Casey, meantime, was as confident as any of the above, if not more so. On the day before he turns 40, Casey reeled off a litany of things he is doing well. “I’m loving being back in England, I feel really good about this week, I’m more in love with this links than I’ve ever been – and I made hay while the sun was shining.”

The last on the Casey list was in a reference to the weather which is expected for the second round. The players would seem to have been fed a forecast which is more dire than any other.

Among other European hopes was Jon Rahm, who is four back after a 69. The 22-year-old Spaniard, who received no penalty after he improperly replaced a marked ball during the final round of his recent Irish Open victory, finished on the right side of another rules matter Thursday.

Officials rescinded a two-stroke penalty he initially had been assessed for moving what he had incorrectly deemed a loose impediment in the rough on the 17th. Officials determined that Rahm had shown no intent to improve his lie, the player explained in a television interview afterward.


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