SOUTHPORT, England — At 1:35 a.m. ET and just as folks on the West Coast were settling down for bed, the 146th British Open was kicking off in Northwest England. The first balls hit the air at 6:35 a.m. local time—more on that later—as cooler temperatures finally made their way to the Open.
But fear not, we will catch you up. Here's what you missed this morning at the Open. You can also follow along with our leaderboard here.
Jordan Spieth is on the prowl
Spieth was bogeyless on the front nine and made birdies on 2, 8 and 9 to go out in three-under 31, which was good enough for the lead when he made the turn. He added birdies on 14 and 17 to sign for 65 and steal the clubhouse lead from Ian Poulter. Speaking of Poulter...
Poulter, the trendy Open pick, had quite the morning. He had to get through a local qualifier just to get into the field, and he entered the week coming off a strong start at the Scottish Open last week (although he dropped back on Sunday). On Thursday, Poulter was two under on the front and made the turn in 32. He added a birdie on the par-5 17th to get to three under and closed with a par on 18. He owned the clubhouse lead after a three-under 67 until Spieth finished.
-- Bryson DeChambeau won the John Deere Classic on Sunday to earn his spot in the Open, but the scientist's magic wore off in England Thursday morning. DeChambeau tripled the opening hole and added bogeys on the 2nd, 4th and 7th before making the turn at five-over 39.
-- KT Kim also started with a triple, which he can partly blame his caddie for. Kim's looper thought he picked up playing partner David Duval's provisional on the 1st hole, but it was in fact Kim's ball. That's a penalty.
-- Former Royal Birkdale Open champ Mark O'Meara had the privilege of hitting the first tee shot of the first group of the 146th playing of the Open. Unfortunately for him it went waaaaaaay right and out of bounds and led to a quad.
Watch our for Stu
Stuart Manley, a 38-year-old 520th-ranked player competing in his first major (who made just one of 10 cuts since he locked up his Open spot months ago) shot a two-under 68. Of course he did. He eagled the par-5 17th and and made a long birdie putt on 18 to get in at two under and grab the early clubhouse lead. It stood until Poulter signed for 67 about an hour later.
"Very nervous on the tee," Manley said. "But luckily I made contact and went forward. I stayed inbounds, so that was nice, but made bogey. And after that I kind of settled my round a little bit, pretty steady, and played quite nicely and obviously finished it off in a nice fashion."
Making a run for SI's Fashionable 50 List for 2018…
… is Justin Thomas. People both love it and hate it.
A friendly reminder
The R&A is way too nice to players.
Alex Noren was two under on the back and shot 68, and Matthew Fitzpatrick was also two under on his second nine and signed for a 69. … Steve Stricker, at 50 years old, shot 70 despite hitting just 43% of his fairways. … The bunker cams on the telecast, likely GoPros nestled into the face of some of the bunkers, show a fantastic and fun angle. Bravo. … Teeing off this afternoon (local time) is Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson.
These in-bunker cameras will never not amaze me. pic.twitter.com/CmZYSo2WgB— Sean Zak (@Sean_Zak) July 20, 2017