By Zak Kozuchowski
GolfWRX Managing Editor
Benign condition and low scores are not what many have come to expect from the British Open. But that’s exactly what golf fans were treated to in Round 1 of the British Open.
A morning wave that included Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson Ernie Els and Graham McDowell took advantage of a lack of wind and soft course conditions, vaulting themselves to the top of the leader board early in the championship.
Scott led the way with a 6-under 64, flirting with the record for the lowest round in a major championship (62) before bogeying his final hole. Woods was also out of the gate early, birdieing four of his first seven holes, although he played in 1-over from there to shoot 67.
Last week’s John Deere Classic champion Zach Johnson shot a round of 65, putting himself one back of Scott and in a tie with Paul Lawrie and Nicolas Colsaerts. Brandt Snedker sits alone in fifth place after a 66, while McDowell, Els, Peter Hanson, Steve Stricker and Rory McIroy find themselves three back of the lead after rounds of 3-under.
Since 1975, just five first-round leaders of the British Open have gone on to win: Tiger Woods (2005), John Daly (1995), Greg Norman (1993), Seve Ballesteros (1988) and Tom Watson (1980).
The lowest opening-round score at the British Open is 63, set by Rory McIlroy at St. Andrews in 2010. Prior to Scott’s 64, the best opening-round score at Royal Lytham & St. Annes was 65, set by Colin Montgomerie in 2001 (finished T13), Paul Broadhurst in 1996 (T27) and Bill Longmuir in 1979 (T30).
In the 11 previous British Opens hosted at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the first-round leader has gone on to win three times (Seve Ballesteros/1988, Gary Player/1974, Peter Thomson/1958).