TROON, Scotland – The 145th Open Championship kicked off under clear skies, low winds and ripe scoring conditions. The morning wave featured birdie binges and, as always, a few flameouts. Here's what happened while you were sleeping:
AN AMERICAN LEADS AGAIN
Patrick Reed has never cracked the top 10 in a major, but he’s alone at the top after firing a 66 to take the clubhouse lead Thursday morning. The 25-year-old jarred his approach from the fairway to eagle the par-4 3rd hole, kick-starting an opening 31. Here’s the shot:
Reed closed with two birdies and two bogeys on Troon's tougher back nine, including a six-foot birdie on 18. He'll tee off in the afternoon wave on Friday.
QUICK STARTS ON THE FRONT 9
Justin Thomas, playing in his first Open, birdied the opening four holes to rocket to the top of the yellow boards. On the par-4 11th, Troon's toughest hole, he holed a bunker shot for par and led briefly before a doubling the 15th. A birdie on the 18 was good for a 67 (with just 24 putts).
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy reeled off birdies on 5, 6, 7 and 8, and clanked the flagstick with his approach on 9, and went out in 32. A double bogey on the 13th brought him back off the lead.
Bubba Watson, playing with McIlroy, tore through the opening seven holes in five under to briefly grab a share of the lead. But on the famed par-3 8th "Postage Stamp," Watson’s towering tee shot plummeted into the back of a bunker left of the green, into a fried-egg lie. He played out sideways to a patch of rough behind the green, took two chips, two putts and made a 6. He has continued to struggle from there.
THE BRUTAL 11th REIGNS AGAIN
The 11th hole is destroying the field. When the Open last came to Troon, the 482-yard par-4 -- which plays as a par 5 for members -- was the toughest on the course. In the first eight groups (24 players), there were eight pars, four triple bogeys and a pair of 9s from Steven Bowditch and David Duval.
MONTY RECOVERS FROM POOR START
Local boy Colin Montgomerie was given the honor of hitting the opening tee shot of the tournament, and, yes, he was excited about it. His iron shot found the left rough and he made a double bogey. From there, he rallied with his own birdie run to make some early waves here at his hometown course. Like many of his competitors, the back nine proved to be a beast, and he finished 33-38 for an even-par 71.
OOSTY MAKES AN ACE
Best shot of the morning? Has to be the ace on the 14th hole by Louis Oosthuizen, who also made a hole-in-one at the 16th hole this year on Masters Sunday. Here’s his latest from Troon:
Still to come this afternoon in Scotland (and late morning in the U.S.): Phil Mickelson (9:36 ET), Dustin Johnson (9:04 ET) and Adam Scott (9:15 ET).