Date: July 19, 2013
Author: Omnisport

Johnson leads Open, Scott in the hunt

Zach Johnson leads the way at the British Open after carding a five-under 66 on the first day&aposs play at Muirfield as Australian Adam Scott finished five strokes off the pace. Johnson, though, leads Spain&aposs Rafael Cabrera-Bello and American Mark O&aposMeara by a shot after a round that saw the 37-year-old hit an eagle, four birdies and bogey just once. The American, who came into the tournament off the back of a five-hole play-off defeat in the John Deere Classic on Sunday, was in with a chance of finishing with a lower total, having posted a front-nine score of 31, including an eagle at the fifth. However, the 2007 Masters champion could only manage one birdie on the back nine and dropped a shot at the 14th to ensure he sits just one stroke clear going into Friday&aposs second round in Scotland. “I&aposm very pleased. It was a very solid day,” he told the Open&aposs official website. “I felt great on my tee shots and pretty comfortable with my approaches. I had some good numbers to hit some shots close and anytime you shoot under par in an Open you know you ve putted great.” Spain&aposs Miguel Angel Jimenez looked as though he would challenge for the lead after hitting five birdies on the front nine but he sits tied for fourth overnight, while a strong back nine from Francesco Molinari keeps him in contention. The Italian is tied for ninth after a back-nine 33, while it was a similar story for Tiger Woods, who is also tied at ninth, having recovered well from a penalty drop on the first. After hitting just one birdie and bogeying twice in the first nine holes, he too ended up at two under on 69. Masters Champion Scott, meanwhile, endured a tough start to his round as he posted bogeys at the second and fourth holes. But Scott returned fire with two birdies to turn for home at even par, before enduring a similar back nine with two birdies and two bogeys, the last of which came on the 18th. On a day when plenty of big names struggled, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and defending champion Ernie Els all finished over par. McIlroy endured an absolute shocker, finishing on eight over as his eight pars and two birdies were overshadowed by six bogeys and two doubles, while world number three and US Open winner Rose ended on four over. South African Els&apos round of 74 means he sits eight shots behind the leader with plenty of work to do if he wants to retain the championship. Like the big names, the rest of the Australian contingent struggled at Muirfield. Jason Day finished with a two-over 73 after posting a double-bogey on the 18th. He finds himself alongside Marcus Fraser, whose two bogeys on the back nine took him above par. The pair are one stroke ahead of Peter Senior and John Wade as Geoff Ogilvy finished the opening day with a score of four-over 75. Steven Jeffress and Marc Leishmann are both a further stroke back at five over while John Senden (77), Brendan Jones (78), Brett Rumford (79) and Steve Dartnell (80) are further down the leaderboard.