Kuchar joins Spieth and Koepka at the top
Two proven young major winners are among the first-round leaders on the opening day of the 146th Open Championship.
Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka both made significant statements with superb five-under-par rounds of 65 in the morning to share the early lead.
Spieth is a two-time major winner while Koepka is fresh from his maiden major victory at the US Open last month. Their sterling efforts on the opening day at Royal Birkdale definitely spells danger for their rivals.
The duo were eventually joined by fellow American Matt Kuchar, who matched their efforts later in the afternoon with a 65 of his own.
Spieth didn’t drop a single shot on the challenging links course, picking up three birdies on the front nine and two more at the back.
— The Open (@TheOpen) 20 July 2017
His fantastic short game came to the rescue whenever he found himself in a spot of bother, and had his eight-foot birdie attempt on the 18th found the cup instead of just sliding by, his round would have been even better.
"I couldn't have done much better today. I missed two greens," the 23-year-old admitted, who gave himself a nine out of 10 for his opening round.
"Everything was strong. I thought I'd give it a nine across the board for everything — tee balls, ball-striking, short game and putting. So things are in check. It's just about keeping it consistent."
And with the forecast predicting deteriorating conditions for Friday's second round, Spieth knows how valuable his great start could turn out to be.
"I thought today's round was extremely important, as they all are, but given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today."
Perhaps even more ominously, in-form US Open champion Koepka soon joined Spieth at the top of the leaderboard after a 65 of his own.
Winning consecutive majors is a real rarity, but Koepka has given himself a real chance of doing just that thanks to his stellar opening round.
The 27-year-old was four under par through 13 holes before dropping a shot at the 16th. But a stunning eagle at the par-4 17th vaulted him into a share of the lead.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) 20 July 2017
"I played pretty solid today," said Koepka, who has barely played any golf since his US Open win. "I felt like I was in control of the golf ball pretty much all day and it was just fun to get back playing again."
Co-leader Kuchar, meanwhile, made all five of his birdies on the front nine, and had to settle for a string of nine pars on the back, but he'll no doubt be satisfied with his day's efforts.
"For me to start my Open with a 29 on the front nine is a great way to start," he said.
The leading trio are one shot clear of Englishman Paul Casey and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Lying two shots back are a resurgent Ian Poulter, Richard Bland, Charley Hoffman, Justin Thomas, Austin Connelly and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
67 for Poulter ✍🏼
His lowest ever opening round in a Major (54 starts). pic.twitter.com/jCqO9Ojmjw
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) 20 July 2017
South African Ernie Els and BMW PGA champion Alex Noren are among those on two under, three back, alongside World No 2 Hideki Matsuyama.
Further down the field, former World No 1 Rory McIlroy had a remarkable round, finding himself five over par through his opening six holes before rallying with four birdies on the back nine to salvage a one-over-par 71.
If scorecards had pictures … pic.twitter.com/dZzaKTUeAw
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 20 July 2017
"I am just trying to remember the last 12 holes and scrub the rest out of my mind," McIlroy said.
"I'm encouraged about what I saw on the back nine and will try and go out and do it all again tomorrow and limit the mistakes. I played 12 good holes and hopefully that will keep the run going."
Defending Open champion Henrik Stenson is in the hunt after a one-under 69. The Swede lies four shots back alongside Australian Jason Day.
World No 1 Dustin Johnson joined McIlroy on one over, as did Rickie Fowler.
‘Is this where I am going to die?’ Nicolas Colsaerts on kidney disorder battle
The Belgian is the focus of attention this week as he belatedly defends the Cazoo Open de France title he won three years ago.
On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s Europe team
Faldo was heavily criticised for his tactics in the closing singles.
Open champion Cameron Smith wins first LIV trophy in just second start
The world number two is the highest-ranked player to join the rebel series.
Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Matt Fitzpatrick holds narrow lead ahead of final round at Italian Open
Rory McIlroy and Aaron Rai are one shot off the pace.
Rory McIlroy picks up the pace to claim lead ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick in Rome
McIlroy’s group looked unlikely to complete their second rounds after taking three hours to play nine holes.
Matt Fitzpatrick leads way at Italian Open despite ‘inconsistent’ display
The US Open champion held a one-shot lead over fellow Englishman Tom Lewis,
Rory McIlroy rues a late night until eagle gets him flying in Italian Open
The four-time major winner was only a shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick after the first round of the Rome event.
Rory McIlroy begins Italian Open with superb 67 after recovering from slow start
He kick-started his round by holing out from 115 yards for an eagle on the par-four third.
Shane Lowry: Golf risks alienating fans with disgusting amount of money involved
The BMW PGA Championship winner insists he was never tempted to join LIV Golf.