Zach Johnson takes early lead at Open

Round one of the Open Championship was conducted in near perfect conditions at Muirfield today and it is the American Zach Johnson who last week lost a playoff for one his favourite events, the John Deere Classic who has the lead.

Johnson has begun to play the Open Championship well in recent starts in the event including when 9th at Royal Lytham & St Annes last year after being very much in the hunt heading into the final round.

Today the 37 year old from Georgia raced to the turn in 31 today before playing the back nine in even par to finish with 66 and lead by one over veteran and 1998 champion Mark O'Meara and Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Dustin Johnson, Shiv Kapur, Tom Lehman and Brandt Snedeker one shot further back in a share of 3rd position.

Johnson was understandably pleased with his effort.

"Very pleased. It was a very solid day," he said after his round. "I felt great. Certainly coming into the week I felt great on the tee shots today. I felt pretty comfortable on my approach shots. I had some good numbers to hit some shots close, because that is part of it here, as firm as it is.

"Anytime you shoot under par in an Open or a Major, for that matter, you have to be putting at least somewhat decent, and I putted great. I made some nice birdie putts and obviously that one for eagle. But I struck some really nice solid par putts. That's what you've got to do to stay in it. All in at all, very solid, just it's just one round.

"You feel like in the morning it's going to be a little bit easier just because there's less traffic, specifically around the hole. And so this afternoon it's already getting a little dicey on some of the pins. My guess is that it's going to continue.

"So tomorrow afternoon, certainly I'm going to expect maybe a little bit more difficult conditions than when I teed off today. But I guess you never know. Someone said there could be a mist at some point, who knows. But the weather is tremendous. I expect much of the same. It is The Open and you expect difficult conditions.

Twenty players would break par on day one where a firm and fast golf course and relatively gentle winds greeted the players early but became more demanding as the day went on.

Most of those players under par played in the morning half of the field, but as the greens became more difficult for the later players and the winds strengthened the scoring averages blew out.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are two of the players at 2under 69, the three time winner Woods clawing his way back from a slow start for a final nine of 32.

Mickelson produced four birdies and two bogeys in his round and appeared to have carried over the fine form he displayed last week when winning in Inverness.

The leading Australian after day one is Adam Scott who recovered from a slow start where he dropped two shots in his first four holes to eventually finish with 71 and is in 21st position.

"There was a lot of good stuff out there today," said Scott. "A couple of surprises, I have to say, just with how firm the course has gotten again overnight, even, and especially the greens, by the end of the day. I mean, some of them it's like glass around the hole. It's testing, you've got to be really careful. And I made a couple of great putts today but I also let a couple slip away. I think even is pretty reflective to how I played.

"I think some of the weight of Major Championship golf has been lifted off my shoulders, for sure, and more so coming to The Open this year, after what happened last year," added Scott when asked about last year and how that impacted on his effort today. "And I've got a lot of expectation to play well this week, if I hadn't won the Masters. And I think it's a little easier to perform having won a Major now. But I still haven't won The Open and I'd dearly love to.

Jason Day began and finished his round with agonising double bogeys but in between there was some good golf and so his chances are not yet as forlorn as his round of 73 would suggest.

Day has been bothered by a wrist injury and he discussed that today. "My wrist is cactus right now. So I'm not going to do any practice. I'm going to try and rest up as much as possible and get into it tomorrow, and slowly chip away at it and hopefully with this easterly wind it makes it a little tougher for everyone, and hopefully it brings back the field a little bit. But we've got so many good players in the field, it's going to be tough to get back. But just really get some good rest tonight and get into it tomorrow."

Marcus Fraser's only real blunder came at the 7ty where he took double bogey but that aside it was a solid enough round of 73

Peter Senior also began with a double bogey but he fought well for a round of 74 and at 3 over he looks well enough placed to make the cut which appears as if it might fall around the 6 over mark.

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