3:28 | Tour & News
Brandel Chamblee's expert picks to win at Royal Birkdale
Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee gives his predictions for who will win the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Every evening of the 2017 Open Championship, we will poll GOLF.com editors and writers for their thoughts on a specific question. Today's query is below. 

Some big-time talents went low, a handful of major-less players are in good position and a couple of favorites are in rough shape after Day 1 of the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Which player’s performance most surprised you Thursday and why?

Josh Berhow: Rory surprised me the most, and he did so twice. I was shocked by the way he stumbled early, and he could have packed it in on the back nine with a woe-is-me waltz to the clubhouse. But then I was equally surprised by his comeback. He's right there in the thick of things, and you could tell he knew it with his fist-pump after making birdie on 18. If he gets a good draw of the weather tomorrow he could be right back in it, despite that start. Crazy.

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Jeff Ritter: Brooks Koepka's life changed after winning at Erin Hills, and he appeared to celebrate as hard as any major-winner who came before him. To share the lead after touching a club only a couple of times before this week? Didn't see that one coming.

Alan Bastable: Tommy Fleetwood's 76. Playing on his home turf, the plucky Fleetwood was a trendy pick to become the first Englishman to win the Open since — all together now — Sir Nick 25 years ago. So much for the hometown boy making good.  

Marika Washchyshyn: I was really hoping for some fireworks from Phil, what with the whole 'two 3-iron magician' business during his practice rounds. Maybe he'll figure out that decision tomorrow, but he's got a lot of work to do to keep that storyline going through the weekend.

Phil Mickelson, after finishing second last year, failed to make a single birdie during his first round at Royal Birkdale.
Getty Images // Oli Scarff

Sean Zak: I was surprised at Henrik Stenson's 69. The guy has done just about nothing right on the PGA Tour this year but quietly played some solid golf in the past month at the BMW International Open and the Scottish Open. His struggles on the PGA Tour led many of us to forget about his ballstriking performance of the gods last year. He's the defending champ and, yes, this course suits his game even better than Troon did.

Rory McIlroy turned in one of the most polarizing rounds of the day with a 39 on the front nine at Royal Birkdale and a 32 on the back nine.
Getty Images // Andrew Matthews

Alan Shipnuck: I've gotta say Rory. He looked like a dead man walking with those five bogies to start the round but showed a lot of grit, determination and fight -- qualities we don't often associate with him -- to get himself back in the tournament. He's still clearly searching but at least now he takes some momentum into the next three rounds.

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Jessica Marksbury: Sergio surprised me most. I know he has a lot on his plate with his upcoming wedding (I guess?), but a score of three over par -- in what could end up being the most favorable weather conditions of the week -- is pretty disappointing. I've always thought of the Open as his best chance at another major, but unless he turns things around in a big way, it looks like it ain't happening this year.

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