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AS IT STANDS -6 Oosthuizen; -5 Spieth, Harman; -4 Hughes, Frittelli, Cink, Hebert, Simpson SELECTED OTHERS -2 Johnson; E McIlroy; +1 Rahm, DeChambeau; +2 MacIntyre

Death, taxes and Louis Oosthuizen contending in a major championship.

Those would appear to be the three certainties in life.

The South African, a winner of the Claret Jug in 2010, is the man to beat after setting a blistering pace on the opening day of The 149th Open.

Oozthuizen carded a blemish-free six-under 64 to lead by a shot from fellow ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ Jordan Spieth and another American, Brian Harman. 

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Stewart Cink, who was succeeded as the Open champion by Oosthuizen, is a further shot adrift on four-under alongside Mackenzie Hughes, Benjamin Hebert, Dylan Frittelli and Webb Simpson. 

All told, 49 players are within five shots of the lead after a sun-soaked opening day in Sandwich.

It is Oosthuizen, though, who sits atop the pile. 

The 38-year-old has finished runner-up in majors six times since he made an emphatic breakthrough at St Andrews 11 years ago. The two most recent of those have come in the two most recently staged championships: the US PGA in May and last month’s US Open. 

How he would love to go one better this week and ditch the bridesmaid dress. Three more days like today and he’ll likely do it, too.

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“Probably in my mind, it’s the most perfect round I could have played,” he said. “I didn’t make many mistakes. When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts. So yeah, just a very good solid round.”

Spieth, looking to add to his own personal haul of three major victories, is in close pursuit and, like Oosthuizen, he was delighted by his fast start.

“I like where I’m at,” said the 27-year-old. “I feel like I’ve been progressing nicely. Took a couple steps back really on the weekend at Colonial

through the US Open but I know what it was now and I’ve tried to put in some good work over the last few weeks to get back on the same and even forward it from where I was already progressing.

“The path that I’m on and where I’ve been before in the game, I feel really good about my chances going forward, as good as they have been historically.”

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Elsewhere, world No.1 Dustin Johnson is dangerously poised on two-under, whilst a birdie at the last helped Rory McIlroy finish level-par for his round. 

Jon Rahm, the winner of the US Open last month, slumped to a surprising one-over 71 in the best of the conditions, whilst Bob MacIntyre – the sole Scot in the field – lies two-over. 

And then there’s Phil Mickelson. 

The reigning US PGA champion carded a 10-over 80 to prop up the leaderboard. It was just the third time in his career that the left-hander failed to break 80 in the first round of a tournament, and the first since 2003. 

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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