The Open: Spieth stakes his claim with first-round 65

By Sports Desk July 15, 2021

Jordan Spieth staked an early claim for a second Open title with a stunning first-round 65 at Royal St George's.

The three-time major winner, who triumphed at Royal Birkdale in 2017, was in fine form on Thursday as he reached five under to sit one stroke behind fellow former Champion Golfer of the Year Louis Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen was still out on the course.

Spieth has the good fortune to be playing alongside Branden Grace, who has featured with the eventual winner in the opening two rounds of the previous two Opens.

The South African teed off in a group with Francesco Molinari at Carnoustie in 2018, before playing alongside Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush a year later.

Spieth's showing put him two ahead of the next-best clubhouse score, with four players on three under.

 

Reigning champion Shane Lowry and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm both faced an uphill battle to get involved in the race for the Claret Jug.

Irishman lowry was one over through 16, with U.S. Open champion Rahm one stroke further back at the same stage.

Rory McIlroy tees off at 15:21 local time with the hotly tipped Patrick Reed for company.

Related items

  • Ryder Cup: 'Tough day' for Europe but Harrington upbeat after Friday's finish Ryder Cup: 'Tough day' for Europe but Harrington upbeat after Friday's finish

    Europe captain Padraig Harrington lamented a difficult start against the United States but remains upbeat, buoyed by the defending Ryder Cup champions managing to halve the final two matches on the first day.

    Team Europe face an uphill battle trying to retain their crown at Whistling Straits, where hosts USA hold a commanding 6-2 advantage – the biggest opening-day lead at the Ryder Cup since 1975.

    Europe struggled for answers as Team USA starred in the morning foursomes and afternoon four-balls, with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy losing both his matches and subsequently dropped for Saturday's foursomes.

    While the start of Europe's defence did not go according to plan, Harrington highlighted the importance of Jon Rahm-Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland-Tommy Fleetwood halving their respective matchups against Scottie Scheffler-Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas-Patrick Cantlay late in the day.

    "No doubt it was a tough day," Harrington told reporters. "Clearly not what you wanted, 6-2. There's obviously still 20 points to play for. We've only just played for about 25 per cent at this stage. It isn't a good start, but there's still a lot to play for.

    "My team played well today. You know, just a few times, the momentum, the odd putt didn't go in, and you need a bit of momentum. Things didn't go against us.

    "But hopefully, I just think the last couple of matches there, when it was really, really tight, the boys came through, and it certainly felt like we couldn't have afforded -- those two halves at the very end were crucial for us, Tyrrell with the birdie on the last, very, very important in those situations.

    "As much as we would have liked to have gotten wins on the board, we couldn't afford -- we didn't feel like we could afford to have lost those matches. Maybe a little bit of momentum swing there, and we feel good about that. And coming out tomorrow, obviously we need a big day."

    Harrington added: "We just didn't hole the putts today. You know, you hole a few putts at the right time, you do create the momentum to move on.

    "So it's a sort of Catch 22. Obviously the US played well and obviously they holed the right putts at the right time and fair play to them. We're certainly not second-guessing the way they played. We would like to hole a few more putts ourselves tomorrow and create a little bit more good feeling and vibes for ourselves."

    "You can't just turn around and try to eat into a lead straightaway in one session," he continued. "It would be lovely if it happened, but you can't think like that. You've got to do it slowly, one step at a time.

    "We've got 20 points to play for, and we've got to prepare ourselves for, hopefully for us at this stage [it is] a long battle all the way through. If we are going to get this done, it's going to be a very tight one."

    American counterpart and USA skipper Steve Stricker added: "It's a great start. We are very happy with the start. But my message to the guys before I left is tomorrow is a new day. You know, let's just go out tomorrow and try to win that first session again in the morning and pretend today never happened, and let's keep our foot down and continue to play the golf that we know we can play.

    "That's what we're trying to do and not try to get complacent with anything. You know, we've had some things that came up and bit us in the rear in other Ryder Cups, so these guys know that, and they are focused on tomorrow and coming out strong again tomorrow."

  • Ryder Cup: Job not over for USA after biggest day-one lead since 1975, insists DeChambeau Ryder Cup: Job not over for USA after biggest day-one lead since 1975, insists DeChambeau

    Bryson DeChambeau insisted the job is not over for the United States after racing clear of Europe on day one in their quest to wrestle back the Ryder Cup.

    Team USA have their biggest opening-day lead at the Ryder Cup since 1975 thanks to a dominant start – DeChambeau and his team-mates earning a commanding 6-2 advantage on Friday.

    Ryder Cup holders Europe struggled for answers at Whistling Straits, where hosts USA starred in the morning foursomes and afternoon four-balls.

    DeChambeau teamed up with Ryder Cup rookie Scottie Scheffler in the four-ball, halving their matchup against world number one Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton.

    Powerhouse DeChambeau hit an astonishing 417-yard drive on the 581-yard par-five fifth hole, setting up an eagle to put himself and Scheffler one up in their four-ball contest with Rahm and Hatton.

    Reflecting on the team's red-hot start, DeChambeau told reporters: "Proud of the team. Super proud.

    "They fought hard every single shot out there, from what I saw, and, again, looking back on it, this is a great start, but the job's not over. We have two more days. A lot more golf. And we cannot lose our mindset to win."

    On DeChambeau's fifth-hole bomb, Scheffler added: "That was probably the most excited he's ever been on a golf course was on number five. That wind, we had it on one of our practice days, and we figured out what he needed to do, so to have an opportunity to do that in competition was amazing. I was jacked up for him as well.

    "I think he pushed it a little bit, but he smashed it. So thankfully he pushed it just a touch. If he pulls that ball at all, it's weird, there are two towers behind the green, I can't even describe to you - they are like 250 or 200 yards right of where I'm trying to hit my drive, and it's crazy for him to be able to commit to that shot.

    "I know he's very happy to make a three as well; if he made a five, he said he was probably going to go home. It was great. That was a good spark for us and good momentum for the rest of the day."

    Tiger Woods is absent from this year's Ryder Cup as the 15-time major champion continues his recovery from the February high-speed car crash near Los Angeles that left him with serious leg injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he is capable of playing again on tour.

    Despite not being among Team USA's Ryder Cup roster, the American superstar still had a telling influence on Friday, having reached out with a few words of encouragement.

    Xander Schauffele revealed Woods sent a message on Thursday and Tony Finau elaborated on the text.

    "Harry [Harris English] mentioned to me walking down number nine, like how cool it was that Tiger is so into it," Finau said during his post-round news conference. "I think that's the big thing is he's so invested in this team.

    "He's not here physically, but you know, I think the gist of basically what he was saying was I'm cheering you guys on, I'm right there with you and go fight and make us proud.

    "We were able to do that, and if TW's watching, thanks for that text, brother, I think it helps us a lot."

  • Ryder Cup: McIlroy benched for Saturday's foursomes as Europe face uphill task Ryder Cup: McIlroy benched for Saturday's foursomes as Europe face uphill task

    Rory McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday's foursomes line-up against the United States as Padraig Harrington's Europe fight to recover from a forgettable opening day at the Ryder Cup.

    Team Europe face an uphill battle to retain the Ryder Cup after the USA snatched their biggest opening-day lead since 1975 as the hosts surged 6-2 ahead on Friday.

    McIlroy suffered two heavy defeats at Whistling Straits, where the former world number one will watch from the sidelines on Saturday morning.

    A 5 and 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes was followed by a 4 and 3 defeat in his pairing with Shane Lowry against Tony Finau and Harris English in the afternoon four-balls.

    McIlroy – a four-time major champion – has been benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, having featured in every session since debuting in 2010.

    "He's already a leader," Harrington said of McIlroy prior to the pairings being released. "You saw him out there after a tough day. He was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers.

    "I couldn't have asked more from him during the year. I couldn't have asked more from him today.

    "Yeah, the golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team."

    World number one Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia will lead Europe out against USA pair Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

    Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa will clash with Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger face American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, while it is a Cantlay-Schauffele and Lee Westwood-Matthew Fitzpatrick showdown.

    "I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," Harrington said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.