Spieth, Koepka lead the way in opening round at British Open

Lynette Rowe
July 23, 2017

He made the par putt - Spieth made a lot of putts on Thursday - picked up a two-putt birdie on the 17th and narrowly missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the last. The outcome was about as bright as his chances of getting his name on another major championship trophy.

"Assuming decent, tough enough conditions, it's a tournament for experience", Harrington said.

Spieth hit 4-iron from 215 yards, landing his ball on the front of the green and 60 feet from the pin. But it scooted around the bunkers and was fortunate to get all the way up there.

Poulter has a couple of Americans ahead of him in two-time major victor Jordan Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka, but the European star distanced himself from any comparisons to any of his famous exploits in the trans-Atlantic encounter.

Spieth was at 6-under 134.

American Phil Mickelson, 2013 Open champion, shot 73, local favorite Tommy Fleetwood, the world number 14, could only manage a scrappy 76 and Mark O'Meara endured a day to forget on his return to the course where he won the 1998 Open.

However, the four-time major victor rallied to shoot 71 in round one and then stormed out of the blocks on Friday with birdies at the first, third and sixth.

"I play some of my best golf when I'm pretty confident and I'm excited for this weekend; I can't wait. And it turned around for me, thankfully", he said. "But I enjoy it".

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"I'm proud of the way I've been able to get things back on the straight and get back to really focusing hard on what I need to do to get the level of golf back that I think I can play". Steady winds are expected to reach 25 miles per hour, lots of rain is supposed to fall, as will the temperatures. He was at 4-under 136, and it would have been a good bet that he would be leading with the nasty weather that arrived. But he did think I should have played short, as my wedge game was going so well. "Today is my day".

But with the rain giving way to overcast skies and the wind easing, it took just under 90 minutes after play began for the first players to get under par.

For example, Spieth leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained/approach-the-green - the part of the game where he is often cited as being substandard. After coming up short two years ago, Spieth is the headliner and the favorite to win at Royal Birkdale. Hitting the tee shot on No. 9 to the fairway on No. 10 leaves a simple shot with a great angle - way better than playing the ninth hole as the way it was intended. "And that chip-in [at the 10th] was massive for par". On Friday during the second round of The Open, he stiffed his approach at the par-3 12th in setting up an easy birdie.

"I have not been on the good end of the draw but we seem to have ground it out".

And he wasn't through just yet.

"There's a whole lot of trouble to be had, and trying to hit solid shots that the wind is going to affect the least is challenging", he said after completing a calmly efficient round that included four bogeys - two in the last three holes - and three birdies.

Even so, his work is far from over.

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