Two-time main winner Jordan Spieth gave himself 9 out of 10 after starting his bid to safe the third leg of a profession grand slam in spectacular vogue within the 146th Open Championship.
However a resilient Rory McIlroy insisted he remained firmly in rivalry for a second Open title at Royal Birkdale after recovering from a woeful begin to finish the day six photographs off the tempo.
Spieth carded a bogey-free 65 to share the lead with US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar, with Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel a shot behind on 4 below.
Casey, who will have a good time his 40th birthday on Friday, headed the problem for a primary English winner since 1992 forward of compatriots Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, who had been a part of a five-strong group on three below par.
And whereas 2014 champion McIlroy, who instructed his pre-tournament odds of 20/1 represented a great wager, might solely handle a 71, that was fairly an achievement after enjoying the primary six holes in 5 over par.
McIlroy coated the again 9 in 32 with three birdies within the final 4 holes to complete one over par, the identical rating as enjoying companion and world primary Dustin Johnson.
The 65s of Ryder Cup team-mates Spieth and Koepka equalled the second lowest first-round rating in an Open at Birkdale, a shot exterior Craig Stadler’s report of 64 set in 1983.
However after hitting simply 5 of 14 fairways, Spieth acknowledged there was room for enchancment as he seems to be so as to add the Open title to his Masters and US Open victories in 2015.
“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 (under par) today,” the 23-year-old stated.
“The whole lot was sturdy. I give it a 9 throughout the board for the whole lot – tee balls, ball-striking, quick recreation and placing. So issues are in test. It is nearly preserving it constant.
“I would name it a high 5 main spherical that I’ve performed. There are scores that I’ve shot that had been nearer to par that had been higher given what I wanted to do.
“But I couldn’t have done much better today. I essentially missed two greens today in some 15mph winds.”
Spieth had not performed competitively since profitable the Vacationers Championship on his final begin three weeks in the past by holing a bunker shot on the primary gap of a play-off with Daniel Berger.
And Koepka had been inactive for per week longer since claiming his first main title within the US Open at Erin Hills, the place his 16-under-par complete equalled the match report set by McIlroy in 2011.
“We had planned to take it off so it’s not a big deal,” stated Koepka, who’s attempting to develop into the primary individual since Tiger Woods in 2000 to win the US Open and Open in the identical yr. Solely Woods, Bobby Jones (twice), Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson have achieved the feat.
“It felt like I would been enjoying properly and hyperlinks golf simply takes a inventive thoughts. Typically golf can get a bit boring however I see so many photographs out right here which are enjoyable that it actually will get me going.”
Casey’s final spherical in his 30s contained 5 birdies and a three-putt bogey on the 11th, however was a 12-shot enchancment on his opening effort at Birkdale in 2008.
”Apparently life begins at 40 so possibly that is a great omen for me,” stated Casey, who recovered to complete seventh in 2008. “It felt like I needed to do one thing with a really sturdy leaderboard and everybody saying that unhealthy climate is coming.
“It was a case of constructing hay whereas the solar shines so it was necessary to capitalise on the circumstances.”
9 years after ending second to Padraig Harrington in 2008, Poulter’s three-under-par 67 was his lowest ever opening spherical in a significant on the 54th try.
“Birkdale nine years ago felt pretty good on Sunday afternoon and it felt just as good today,” stated the 41-year-old, who did tv commentary on the Open final yr after being sidelined with a foot harm.
“I played really well. A couple of putts slipped by the edge but it adds up to a decent score so I’m pretty happy.”
Heavy rain and wind had made life a distress for the early starters, with former champion Mark O’Meara hitting the opening tee shot at 6:35am straight out of bounds.
O’Meara went on to card a quadruple-bogey eight on his strategy to an 11-over-par 81, however was removed from alone find the 448-yard par 4 a frightening prospect.
One participant in every of the primary three teams additionally went out of bounds and the primary eight teams had been a mixed 23 over par for the opening gap earlier than Sweden’s Alex Noren – who shot 68 – recorded the primary birdie.