The winner on the first day of the 2018 Open was the fantastic Carnoustie Golf Course, that tested each player to their limits
The fear, throughout the build up to the 2018 Open Championship, was that a brown and burnt Carnoustie would be brought to its knees by the world’s best golfers. However, as a fascinating and relatively benign opening day drew to a close, it has become clear they needn’t have worried.
The American journeyman, Kevin Kisner leads the way at 5-under par with Erik Van Rooyan, Tony Finau and Zander Lombard just one shot behind.
That 66 was the lowest score is testament to the incredible design of one of Scotland’s finest golf courses. In a bid to avoid the magnetic and perilous fairway bunkers, we have seen a whole host of different strategies – the truth is that no gameplan can truly remove them from play and there are many instances where a good shot is the only option. With the course playing so firm and fast, the bunkers have been a persistent menace to these players. Every single player had at least one bogey.
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As things stand, this Open Championship could not be more Open. Many of the favourites and big name players are lurking in the background. Rory McIlroy fought a lukewarm putter to finish on minus two, the same score as world number two, Justin Thomas. On the same score were Jon Rahm and 2015 Open Champion Zach Johnson.
What like being one of the most impressive rounds of the day came from Tiger Woods. Looking every inch a likely tournament winner again, Woods relied on one of the great strengths of his game, his long irons, to pick his way expertly through the trouble to shoot two under on the front 9. The back nine was much more of a struggle as he had issues with a freshening wind and deteriorating greens. Tiger finished level par for the round and is just five shots back.
Whilst many of the top names played well, there were some casualties too. Dustin Johnson capped a trying day with a triple bogey seven at the 18th. The world number one carded a four over par 75. Equally surprising was the performance of Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard was largely tipped ahead of this Championship due to his second place finish here in 2007 but his opening 76 including an incredible drive on the 10th hole that dribbled into the Barry Burn at the front of the 10th green.
With Henrik Stenson (minus one), Tommy Fleetwood (plus one), Danny Willet (minus two), Matt Kuchar (minus one) and Rickie Fowler (minus one) also in contention, this Championship remains wide open.