Karlsson sets the early pace

European Tour

Robert Karlsson carded a three-under-par 69 to claim the early clubhouse lead at the 143rd Open Championship.

The 44-year-old Swede was in the first group that teed off at the crack of dawn and although his lead is unlikely to last long, he’d be pleased with his effort nonetheless.

After turning at one-over, Karlsson carded birdies at 10, 12, 15 and 16 to reach three-under.

“In the beginning I didn’t hit it great and it was a bit tricky on the front nine, I thought,” said the Swede.

“Then I hit some good shots on the back nine, and I also chipped in once, which got the round going, and the three par fives means there’s going to be some good scoring on the back nine.”

Several other high-profile players remain on the course in what are ideal scoring conditions at Royal Liverpool.

Tiger Woods has made a circumspect start to his tournament and was one-over on the front nine, but the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia were made strong starts to their tournaments.

McIlroy almost holed his second at the second and after recording three birdies in his first six holes, joined Karlsson, Garcia, Italy’s Matteo Manassero, Americans Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler on three-under.

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