• The Open, Round One

Woods hunts leader Scott, woe for Westwood & Rose

ESPN staff
July 19, 2012

ESPN will have live updates and exclusive coverage from the Open Championship when it gets underway this week - with reporters at Royal Lytham & St Annes to bring you all the insight


Tiger Woods took advantage of benign early conditions to park himself towards the top of the leaderboard midway through day one at The Open, while Lee Westwood failed to capitalise on a chance to go low - and his hopes of victory now hang by a thread at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Australia's Adam Scott holds the clubhouse lead at six-under after signing for a 64, one ahead of 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie, who chipped in twice on the front nine en route to a 65, and Zach Johnson.

Woods, who had a 67, complained about the rough earlier in the week - but was able to avoid the long grass for most of day one, managing the course shrewdly and seeing the benefit of taking few risks on a track that takes no prisoners.

After giving himself an early boost with a 14-foot birdie putt at the first, he picked up another at the fourth before mastering the par-four sixth with three faultless shots. He nearly chipped in for eagle at the seventh, instead having to roll in a one-foot birdie putt that continued his charge.

However, the 14-time major winner - looking for his first since 2008 - found the going tough on the back nine, his approach shots frequently leaving him 15-20 feet away, from where he could never quite sneak the ball in.

Following seven successive pars, he dropped a stroke at 15, taking two shots to escape the wilderness framing the fairway, before coming home with a run of unremarkable pars. As Woods finished his day, the wind was beginning to pick up, hinting at a testing time ahead for the later starters.

Westwood, pursuing his first major title, endured a turbulent day, with more low points than high. He made an early statement with a brace of birdies, only to double-bogey the fourth after getting stuck in a greenside bunker.

A poor iron shot cost him a shot at six, then he won that back with a 20-footer for birdie at seven - and he picked up another at the ninth. However, after the turn his round started to go awry: a three-putt at 13, then a nightmare moment at 14, as he had to play backwards - and left-handed - out of a bunker following a wayward tee shot.

Lee Westwood had a double bogey on three that set him off on the wrong track © PA Photos

He never set himself right from that point onwards: bogeys at 16 and 17 left him three-over and squinting to see Scott, with another major opportunity on the verge of slipping through his grasp.

Scott, whose caddie Steve Williams used to work with Woods, showed all his ball-striking pedigree to mark himself out as the man to beat. He was one-over through three, before marching onwards in flawless fashion, with eight birdies and only one more dropped stroke: at 18, after pulling a tee shot.

Scott finished in the top 15 at both the year's first two majors after posting 75 and 76 in his first rounds, so will be confident of coming on strongly over the coming days.

Graeme McDowell, traditionally a fine links player, bounced back from his near miss at the US Open - where he tied second - by kicking off with a 67 at the year's third major. McDowell was forced to battle throughout, regularly saving par after visiting bunkers - but there was the odd flash of brilliance, never more in evidence than at the ninth, when he was two feet away from a hole in one.

Justin Rose made an inauspicious start, having to get down on one knee to play a bunker shot at the first, and that set the scene for a day to forget. The Englishman played the front nine in 39 with five bogeys - yet, to his credit, displayed plenty of resilience to scrape together a 74. Sergio Garcia, his playing partner, posted a 72.

Defending champion Darren Clarke failed to mount a solid defence of his title, posting a 76 that leaves him facing an uphill struggle to make the weekend. Ian Poulter had a 71, while Masters winner Bubba Watson had a 67 with just one bogey.

Our evening report will feature details of Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson, among others

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