The Latest: British Open rookie early leader at Carnoustie
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — The Latest on the British (all times local):
Erik Van Rooyen enjoyed his first round at a British Open — except for the final hole.
The 28-year-old South African went out at 6:46 a.m. in the second group and has set the clubhouse target after a 4-under 67. The only shot the Open rookie dropped came at the last after he found a bunker with his drive.
Van Rooyen has recent form on the links: He was the 54-hole leader at the Irish Open two weeks ago and finished tied for fourth.
He could soon have company from Jordan Spieth, whose iron play has been excellent early in his round. The defending champion birdied the second, rolled in another birdie from 4 feet at No. 4, and was 2 under after five holes.
Sandy Lyle, who hit the first shot of this 147th British Open, finished bogey-bogey for a 75.
Danny Willett hasn’t had a victory since surprisingly winning the Masters in 2016, and he’s trying to put that right at the British Open.
After opening his first round with a bogey, Willett has rolled in five birdies to reach 4 under after 13 holes, tied for the lead with Erik Van Rooyen.
A mixture of injuries and a swing change saw Willett plunge from inside the world’s top 10 to outside the top 400. He’s currently No. 320.
Jordan Spieth has started his defense of the claret jug, sending an iron down the left of the first fairway and just short of a bunker. He is trying to become the fifth player in the last 50 years to win back-to-back in the British Open.
The wind remains light, but is forecast to pick up in the afternoon.
That nickname “Car-Nasty” might be taking a hit in the opening round of the British Open.
Carnoustie already is dry and fast with wispy rough. It’s not getting much help from the wind, either. Conditions were benign enough that Sandy Lyle made the turn in 1 under. The 60-year-old Scot hit the opening tee shot.
Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa was the first player to reach 3 under with his birdie on the par-5 fifth. Former Masters champion Danny Willett also had three birdies in six holes, though he opened with a bogey.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth plays in the morning. Tiger Woods plays this afternoon in his return to the Open for the first time since 2015.
Sandy Lyle of Scotland sent a mid-iron rolling along the crusty turf of Carnoustie to start the 147th playing of the British Open.
Lyle was chosen to hit the opening tee shot Thursday morning under a gray sky off the North Sea. He won the Open in 1985. Also in the opening group was two-time major champion Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan. They faced a course that was more yellow than green because of the unusually dry summer in Scotland.
Carnoustie has been called “Car-Nasty” in recent Opens because it is considered the toughest links in the Open rotation. This year’s championship was more of a mystery going into the first round. Fast conditions are difficult, but being so dry means the rough is thin and wispy.