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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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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