Johnson, Spieth favourites as British Open begins

Solenn Plantier
Juillet 22, 2017

Jordan Spieth isn't considered one of the elite drivers of the ball, but part of what makes him one of the most formidable major championship players was on full display Thursday.

In wet conditions, the 23-year-old managed to get round the course in Southport in 69 strokes, with three birdies and an eagle on the 15 hole.

At six under par, Spieth led by two from Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Kuchar, with England's Ian Poulter, who was second at Birkdale when it last staged the Open in 2008, on three under alongside US Open champion Brooks Koepka.

In truth, he's never really come close to recapturing that red-hot form from earlier in the year, which makes second-ranked Hideki Matsuyama a more likely contender here, especially if he can produce the form that earned the Japanese player a share of second spot in last month's US Open at Erin Hills.

American Mark O'Meara, Open champion in 1998, is due to strike the first tee shot at 0635 local time (0535 GMT).

"I could be standing here and [have] hit 18 greens and shot one over and missed every putt and feel awful", he stated.

"He said 'You're Rory McIlroy, what the f*** are you doing?"' I essentially missed two greens today in some 15mph winds'.

"Those thoughts ran through my mind, I was thinking, geez, here we go again, but I just needed to stay patient and stay with it", said McIlroy of his disastrous start. I was at -1 after two holes, so I said that I had to keep, he explained, laughing.

In the space of just one hole, Jordan Spieth showed the trouble he may face in the British Open and his unique way of turning it into his advantage.

Last week he finished tied fourth in the Scottish Open and knows he is now well placed for Sunday's final shakedown. "I don't think I even felt this way at the '15 Masters after Friday". I believe that mint has a small effect on the nerves. "I mumbled and said, 'Whatever.' But it helped".

"You're Rory McIlroy", he told him.

"It's pretty cool isn't it?" the 34-year-old said.

The 2015 Masters champion spoke on Wednesday about wanting to see an improvement with the putter, and when his long-range effort at the first shaved the hole, it was clear he had the speed of Birkdale's greens.

'I played really well.

Tommy Fleetwood thanked Southport's bad weather after he made the cut in his home Open at Royal Birkdale.

If he's playing "four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to be nonchalant, I guess you could say", he said.

"It's great. I'm made up to be playing two more days at the Open". "I'd give myself a nine (out of 10)". "I feel sharp, obviously it could have been a little better with the short one missed on 16".

The 146th british Open has started under the rain, the cold and a sudden wandering.

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