LONDON • Patrick Reed laid down an early marker in The Open yesterday, after an impressive opening round of 66 gave the American golfer the clubhouse lead at Royal Troon.
The 25-year-old Texan was one shot clear from his fellow American Justin Thomas after both made the most of the conditions on a glorious day on Scotland's west coast.
Reed signalled his intent when he holed his approach shot for an eagle at the par-four third hole.
He then added birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh holes to reach the turn in 31, but bogeyed the 10th and 13th and did well to come home in level-par 35.
The stiff breeze blowing in from the Firth of Clyde made life particularly difficult on the back nine, and Reed admitted his relief at coming through his round in such a strong position.
"It doesn't matter if the wind is blowing or not, that back nine is tough," said the former Junior Open winner. "It's one of these golf courses that allows you to get off to a quick start, allows you to get almost over-confident and cocky, and all of a sudden you get a little too careless on the back nine and you can go shoot 31-41."
Thomas also handled the conditions expertly to put himself in contention.
Appearing in his first Open, the 23-year-old scored an excellent 67 after beginning his day with birdies at each of the first four holes.
He had seven birdies all together, along with a bogey five at the 10th and a double-bogey six at the 15th.
England's Justin Rose also moved into contention with a 68.
It is the American players who have history on their side in the 145th Open, though, with the last six winners at Troon all coming from the United States.
Jordan Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open last year, opened with an unremarkable 71 that featured three birdies and three bogeys.
South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen bagged the first hole-in-one of the week when his tee shot at the par-three 14th landed at the front of the green and dropped in.
The 2010 Open winner, who shot a 71, also managed a stunning ace at the Masters in Augusta in April.
Other players found the going rather tougher, with 2001 Open champion David Duval of the United States shooting 82.
NOT TO BE UNDERESTIMATED
It's one of these golf courses... that allows you to get almost over-confident and cocky, and all of a sudden you get a little too careless on the back nine and you can go shoot 31-41.
PATRICK REED, former Junior Open winner, who held it together on the back nine with an even-par 35 after going five under on the front nine.
He had reached the turn level par, but promptly bogeyed the 10th hole and then had a nine at the par-four 11th hole, which is separated from the Glasgow to Ayr railway line only by a 1.2m-high stone wall.
Scottish veteran Sandy Lyle, the 1985 Open champion, fared even worse, shooting an 85 that featured 10 bogeys, a double-bogey and a triple-bogey, as well as one birdie.
His compatriot Colin Montgomerie had the honour of hitting the first shot of the championship at 6.35am (local time) in front of enthusiastic galleries.
Now 53 and seen as one of the best players never to win a Major, Montgomerie came through qualifying for this year's Open in his home town.
He recovered from a double-bogey six at the first hole to shoot a respectable 71.
"I tell you what, a lot better players than me in the world of golf would have taken 71 after being two over at the first hole," he said.
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