THERE’S a long way to go at the 2011 British Open but after the first round 40 year old Dane Thomas Bjorn and 20 year old English amateur Tom Lewis lead the tournament on 5-under.
Bjorn is a serious chance, having led The Open at this course eight years ago only to capitulate in the final few holes.
The Dane was three shots ahead with only four holes to play but ended up losing by one to American Ben Curtis.
Coming second on 4-under are Spain’s flamboyant Miguel Angel Jimenez and Americans Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson.
The leading Aussie is Kurt Barnes who shot a 2-under 68 to be on the third rung of the leaderboard with 11 other golfers.
Other Aussies still well within striking distance are Adam Scott and Robert Allenby who carded 1-under 69’s, Richard Green on even par and Jason Day, amateur Bryden Macpherson and Canberra’s Matthew Millar at one-over.
Geoff Ogilvy struggled with a 74 while Aaron Baddeley continued his run of poor British Open performances and with a 77 looks likely to miss his sixth cut in six starts.
Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy hadn’t played competitive golf since his US Open win three weeks ago and started scratchily with two bogies in the first three holes.
Playing in more trying conditions in the morning, the young Northern Irishman started to find his touch and finished with a 71.
Barnes, a 30 year old from Muswellbrook in NSW and recent winner on the OneAsia Tour, made a real impression when he teed off in “John Daly” pants but matched the colour with a solid performance.
“I’ve been called John Daly a few times this week”
When you finish the first round of the British Open with a 68 the bright pink and black pants don’t matter so much. Things like the three straight birdies on the back nine do.
“It’s only early. There’s three days of golf to go. I’m playing well. I just hope to get through to the weekend and see what we can do,” said Barnes, who also revealed he keeps getting asked by fans to sign pictures of John Daly (72).
“I’ve been called John Daly a few times this week,” he said.
Scott and Day, joint runners-up at the US Masters, were mostly content with their performances.
“It was good to finish with a birdie. I think I played well enough to be under par this afternoon,” Scott said. “It was a good start [in] obviously favourable conditions. It was kind of good to make the most of it. I feel my game’s in a good place.”
On what seemed a bitterly cold day (someone suggested they should play The Open in summer) Day was warming to his task.
“I made a few mistakes out there but not bad, especially considering that I haven’t had a lot of experience playing links golf,” Day said. “I kept myself in there. I’m not too far behind the lead which is good. Anything can happen because there’s three days left and there’s a lot of bumps and rolls here you can get. There’s three days left and I’m only six shots behind the lead. It’s not that big of a distance.”
The live action continues tonight on Fox Sports with Scott, Day and Barnes starting in the morning groups. That should give them plenty of coverage in the more user friendly 6pm to midnight timeslot.2011 British Open Live Leaderboard