Young leads Open Championship debut as Woods struggles

The American returned a flawless scorecard, setting the club’s goal eight short of 64 with no ghosts, two shots ahead of the 2014 champion. Rory McIlroy.

Both golfers started playing at the Old Course before 10:00 am local time, and the pair took full advantage of the light morning wind to race ahead of the 156-player course.

A two-time winner of the Korn Ferry Tour, the developmental series of the PGA Tour, Young will make his third debut this year after first appearances at the Masters and the PGA Championship. Although the 25-year-old didn’t make it to the winners on the first occasion, he starred in Tulsa in May, finishing one shot short of winner and compatriot Justin Thomas.

Having played at the Old Course away with his family at the age of 13, St. Andrews holds a “special” place in Young’s heart.

It’s just impossible to hide how special this place is,” he told reporters.

“Of course, I had a goal to get to the open championship. And the fact that I was here for the first time was something special for me.”

Young putts on the 13th field.

However, after Young faced tougher conditions on Friday afternoon, the American quickly moved from being sentimental to being focused ahead of the second round.

“Things can change in an instant, especially here, given how important rebounds and your attitude are,” he added.

“Tomorrow I may have problems. Who knows? I can shoot 64 again. But I think it’s just important for me to accept tomorrow as it is and do my best.”

“Set” McIlroy in hot pursuit

McIlroy’s action-packed round went beyond his impressive score, with the Northern Irishman hitting both ancient stone and spectator en route to a six-to-66 card.

A bizarre start to the fifth hole caused the Northern Irishman’s tee shot to bounce off the March Stone – one of several ancient stones around the fairways that mark the boundaries of the original course – before bouncing back with a birdie. Later, one of his drifters broke the arm of a PGA Tour employee who returned to the track in a sling.

McIlroy has been playing since the fourth fairway.

With the exception of a “too sweet” second roll that resulted in his only bogey of the round in 13th place, the four-time winner was pleased with a good day’s work.

“Everything seems very stable,” McIlroy told reporters. “No major problems with my game. Everything looks like everyone is in good shape … nice and quiet, which is a good way of life.”

McIlroy hits an ancient stone and breaks the arm of a PGA Tour employee in an eventful first open round

“I’m pretty good at this game, I think I know what I’m doing. I just needed to get my hands on her again,” he added.

amateur ambition

Cameron Smith trails the Northern Irishman on a shot, while English amateur Barclay Brown secures a name pick among golfers tied for fourth place with four fewer.

Making it to St. Andrews via the final qualifier in June, the 21-year-old quickly became a crowd favorite in the stands as three birdies through the last seven holes completed an extremely impressive first round.

Brown waves to the crowd after the birdie on 17th.

“In the beginning, I was incredibly nervous,” he admitted to reporters.

“Then, once I got through the first couple of holes, it was nice to calm down a bit, put in some good shots and get into the game.”

Meanwhile, the Englishman Matt Ford, who told CNN on his years of trying to qualify for the tournament – impressed with his first major performance, scoring one under 71.

Woods fights

Brown wasn’t even born yet when Tiger Woods won the first of his three Open Championships at St. Andrews in 2000, and it’s unlikely the youngster will see the American add a fourth in person after Woods endured a tough first round.

With a 6-for-78 card that stood at 146 on his return to the club, the 15-time major tournament winner drew relentless roars from fans at St Andrews and received a rapturous reception in the final match.

Crowds flocked to watch his round and each of his three birds roared as if he was vying for top spot on the leaderboard again, but as Woods acknowledged on Wednesday, this is his new “tough” reality.

Woods had a tough day.
Although he claimed to have felt “much stronger” physically, the 46-year-old has been outspoken about accepting new restrictions on his body following serious leg injuries he sustained in a car accident last year.

After the opening match at 2:59 pm local time, Woods and his two playing partners—compatriot Max Homa and newly crowned US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick—finished their round just over six hours later. However, Woods told reporters after his round that his day was “much easier” on his body than his previous two majors, including withdrawing from the PGA Championship.

“I didn’t really feel like I hit that bad, but I ended up in bad places or some weird stuff just happened,” he said.

“Lynx is like that, and this golf course is like that. I had chances to change the situation and make it move in the right direction, but I didn’t.”

On the street of St. Supporting Andrews, Woods added: “They were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Such support.”

Woods was the center of attention at St.  Andrews.

By his own recent lofty standards, Fitzpatrick also endured a tough evening, thrice scared to finish even on Opening Day. However, like Woods, the Briton was enthusiastically supported throughout the match and the par-72 bird in 18th secured a finish that the crowd loved.

The first group of Friday’s second round is scheduled to start at 6:35 AM BST (1:00 AM ET) and leader Young is scheduled to start at 1:26 PM BST (8:26 ET).