The Open: Oosthuizen in major contention once again as Spieth lurks

By Sports Desk July 15, 2021

Louis Oosthuizen holds the first-round lead at The Open but has Jordan Spieth snapping at his heels in a battle between two former champions.

South African Oosthuizen, who claimed the Claret Jug in 2010, shot a blemish-free 64 to sit one stroke ahead of 2017 winner Spieth, who has Brian Harman for company on five under.

Oosthuizen outshone his playing partners in a headline-grabbing trio featuring reigning champion Shane Lowry and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm.

A host of players are within three shots of the summit at Royal St George's, including major winners Justin Rose and Danny Willett, along with 2009 champion Stewart Cink.

Lowry's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully defend the title at the Sandwich links since Harry Vardon in 1899 suffered a setback following an opening 71, with U.S. Open champion Rahm matching that effort.

 

While Oosthuizen holds a narrow advantage, it is three-time major winner Spieth who has the omens on his side, having been drawn in the same group as Branden Grace.

Oosthuizen's compatriot has featured alongside the eventual winner in the opening two rounds of each of the last two editions of golf's oldest major.

World number one Dustin Johnson is poised to make a move after a two-under-par 68, with Sergio Garcia signing for the same score.

Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut on home soil at Royal Portrush two years ago, closed with a birdie to card an even-par 70.

 

SHOT OF DAY

It was not the most technically brilliant strike of the ball, but the nerves involved in Richard Bland's opening tee shot made it a triumph of coolness under pressure.

The Englishman won his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt at the British Masters in May and had the honour in Kent on Thursday.

He managed to keep the ball on the fairway with a drive that was slightly left, but safe nonetheless.

CHIPPING IN

Louis Oosthuizen: "[That was] probably in my mind the perfect round I could have played. I didn't make many mistakes. When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts."

Richard Bland: "It was very special, very nerve-racking. The nerves definitely cranked up a little bit and I was glad to hit one in the fairway." 

Shane Lowry: "It's so good to have the crowds here and it's so good to be playing in the Open Championship like we know. The big grandstands and the big crowds and getting clapped on the grandstands and on the tees, that's pretty cool."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME...

- Louis Oosthuizen's 64 is his lowest score at a major.

- Rory McIlroy started an Open with a birdie for the first time, with this the Northern Irishman's 12th entry into the tournament.

- The 15th hole proved the toughest to tame on Thursday, the par four playing at an average of 4.37.

Related items

  • Packers want Rodgers back: 'We're all on the same page' Packers want Rodgers back: 'We're all on the same page'

    The Green Bay Packers' key decision-makers are united in their bid to bring Aaron Rodgers back next year, Matt LaFleur says.

    Rodgers' future will again be debated after the Packers' season ended on Saturday with defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.

    The 2020 NFL MVP pushed for a move away from Green Bay last year before eventually returning and enjoying another stellar campaign.

    But the Super Bowl once again proved beyond Rodgers, who has not returned to the big game since the Packers' title triumph in February 2011.

    Rodgers is 7-9 in the postseason in that time and, despite himself underwhelming in the loss to the 49ers, might now wonder if this team will ever get over the hump.

    The Packers, for their part, want Rodgers to come back.

    LaFleur confirmed on Monday his desire to have the QB return was shared by the rest of the organisation, despite the saga surrounding his future at the start of the season.

    "Every conversation that I've been involved in with Gutey [Brian Gutekunst, general manager] and Russ [Ball, director of football operations] and Mark [Murphy, team president], we're all on the same page there," the coach said. "There's no debate."

    LaFleur added of Rodgers: "I want to be respectful of his process, whatever he needs to go through to make the best decision for himself.

    "And certainly we would love for him to be a Packer and be a Packer to the day he decides to retire."

    Rodgers has played 213 games for the Packers, throwing 449 touchdown passes – ranking fifth all time in the NFL and first for Green Bay, ahead of Brett Favre (442).

  • The inevitability of Travis Kelce The inevitability of Travis Kelce
  • Davis 'probable' for Lakers-Nets following MCL sprain Davis 'probable' for Lakers-Nets following MCL sprain

    The Los Angeles Lakers are set to welcome Anthony Davis back from injury against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

    Davis has been upgraded to probable for the game at Barclays Center, having been out for almost six weeks with an MCL sprain.

    The return of the eight-time NBA All-Star boosts a Lakers team toiling at 23-24 in eighth place in the West.

    Davis has played just 27 games this season and only 15 alongside LeBron James.

    Despite LA's poor stretch, which began with Davis in the team, going 13-14 with him in the lineup, James has excelled.

    In 20 games without Davis this year, James has averaged 32.7 points, taking on added responsibility with third man Russell Westbrook struggling.

    The Lakers will hope both Davis and the rest of the team can now rediscover their best form to recover a title push this season.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.