The start of The Open Championship is always a thrill, and this year’s event at Carnoustie was no different. Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are among those atop the leaderboard after Thursday’s action in Round 1, while Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth each burned on the front nine before cooling off down the stretch.
Kevin Kisner leads after shooting the low round of the day, a 5-under 66, but there are 49 other golfers within five shots of him. Each of the last 19 Open winners have come from within that range.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at where we stand with Round 1 of the 147th Open in the books. Be sure to stop by on Friday for full leaderboard coverage from start to finish.
- Kevin Kisner (-5): Kisner went out in 34 thanks to an eagle on the sixth but somehow impressed even more on the back nine with three straight birdies from 13-15 to come in with a 32. His 66 puts him alone in the lead as he looks to win his first career major. He has experience in this position, though. He led or co-led for three rounds of the 2017 PGA Championship, where he went on to finish T7.
T2. Erik Van Rooyen, Tony Finau, Zander Lombard (-4): A pair of young South Africans — both under 30 — are among three that made a run at the early lead on Thursday. Van Rooyen contended at the Irish Open a few weeks ago, so this isn’t out of nowhere, but Lombard has made just two of his last 13 cuts on the European Tour. An impressive start for the 6-foot-4 Finau included identical nines with four birdies and two bogeys each way. Finau is looking for his third-straight top 10 finish at a major this year after finishing fifth at the U.S. Open in June.
T5. Ryan Moore, Brendan Steele, Brandon Stone (-3): Stone joins his countrymen (see above) with a hot start, and he carries momentum into the week after shooting a 60 (!) in the final round of the Scottish Open last week for the victory. He would be the first players since Phil Mickelson in 2013 to pull off the Scottish-British double. Moore posted five birdies on the front nine, and Steele was simply consistent all day long with five birdies and one bogey over his final 13 holes on the day.
T8. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Zach Johnson, Danny Willett, Jon Rahm and five others (-2): Strong grouping here three shots back of the leader. McIlroy and Rahm mostly settled for pars on the day, while Thomas went out in 33 but came in at 36 after going 1-over across the final nine holes. Rahm and McIlroy tried to overpower the golf course as both drove the par-4, 350-yard 3rd hole and hit loads of drivers where others settled for irons. It will be interesting over the final three days to see whether (a) that strategy continues to be successful or (b) they call an audible on it at any point.
T18. Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson and 13 others (-1): This is a pretty good slot to be in for a handful of stars. They’re just four back of the lead, and Fowler was especially impressive down the stretch as he played the final four holes in 1 under despite the fact that they played to a 1-over average.
T32. Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Jason Day and 15 others (E): Woods started hot with two birdies on the front nine, but he came within a total of 2 inches from landing two more. He came apart a bit going 2-over on the back nine to erase his early success, but it could have been worse. He made lengthy putts on Nos. 9 and 11 to give himself a shot over the final three rounds. Day settled for par on 14 holes, and Scott mirrored Woods’ effort on the afternoon.
T50. Jordan Spieth (+1): After starting hot with three birdies and no bogeys over his first 11 holes, Spieth gave up his 3-under score with a double on 15 and bogeys on 16 and 18 coming in. What felt like could be a repeat Open bid unraveled in a hurry.
T73. Phil Mickelson (+2): Lefty struggled with a double-bogey on 16 to get to 2 over, putting him in the same extended group with Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Bernhard Langer and Mark Calcavecchia, among many others. He drove the ball better than I thought he would, but fell victim — as so many did — to the closing stretch. A reminder: Sunday is going to be wild with three of the four toughest holes on the course ending the tournament.
T129. Dustin Johnson (+5): A brutal showing for the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer and the favorite entering the 147th Open. Johnson posted just a single birdie on the day, adding three bogeys and a triple on 18 to close out a disastrous round. Johnson has only missed the cut twice in his last 15 majors with nine top-10 finishes in that same span. He’s in danger of doing so Friday.