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Kevin Kisner takes lead, Carnoustie holds its own at Open Championship

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — The silver claret jug was on the primary tee Thursday morning at Carnoustie, a trophy that Kevin Kisner is aware of all too properly.

Kisner flew dwelling from the Open final 12 months with Jordan Spieth, a flight that was delayed whereas ready on Spieth to complete up his duties because the champion golfer of the 12 months. Just final week, Kisner was on the aircraft with Spieth to Paris to see the Ryder Cup course, and Spieth needed to convey the jug alongside to return it to the R&A after they arrived at this hyperlinks alongside the North Sea.

“And I’m staying with him this week, and he no longer has it,” Kisner mentioned. “He gave it back Monday. It would be cool to return the favor.”

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Kisner performed as if he had been critical about that.

He made an extended eagle putt on the par-5 sixth. He ran off three straight birdies on the again 9. Kisner completed with a 5-under 66 earlier than some 60 gamers had even began the opening spherical, and no one may catch him.

In what could be the simplest situations of the week, Kisner saved the ball in play and made nearly all the pieces. He took solely 22 putts and had a one-shot lead, giving him little greater than bragging rights in the home of stars the place he’s staying, with roommates that embrace 5 main champions and Rickie Fowler.

“The golf course is great for me,” Kisner mentioned. “The conditions have been fine. Going forward, you never know what you’re going to have in Scotland. I know the rain is coming in tomorrow. I don’t think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day, but I have to just keep doing what I’m doing. If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot.”

Carnoustie nonetheless managed to carry its own.

One shot behind was a set of gamers with little historical past in golf’s greatest occasions, together with Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard of South Africa. Tony Finau had eight birdies to offset his share of errors to affix them at 67.

Of the highest seven on the leaderboard, none has received a serious.

First-round chief Kevin Kisner on needing simply 22 putts on the way in which to a 5-under 66: “The golf course is great for me.” Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm powered their approach to 69s, going for the inexperienced on brief par 4s. Tiger Woods took out his driver one time and shot 71, a spherical slowed by a brief putt he missed and a pot bunker he could not keep away from.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” Woods mentioned. “I had two 8-irons into both par 5s today, and I end up with par on both of those. If I just clean up those two holes and play them the way I’m supposed to play them with 8-iron in my hand, I think I’d probably have the best round in the afternoon wave.”

Almost. Eleven of the 31 gamers who broke par had been within the afternoon facet of the draw.

Even so, nobody may actually go low. And these 31 gamers who broke par had been separated by solely 4 pictures.

Three of Kisner’s housemates additionally had been underneath par — PGA champion Justin Thomas (69), two-time main champion Zach Johnson (70) and Fowler (70). Another is Spieth, who was in vary of the lead till he made one psychological error and two dangerous swings whereas dropping 4 pictures during the last 4 holes for a 72 that did not do an excessive amount of harm.

Even in light climate by Scottish requirements, Carnoustie served up its common dose of craziness.

Padraig Harrington holed a brief putt for par on the opening gap and turned to go away when he noticed a golf ball trundle onto the inexperienced. It was the tee shot of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who hit driver off the tee to arrange a simple birdie.

That was as simple because it obtained for Koepka for the subsequent two hours. He shot 41 on the entrance 9. And then he shot 31 on the again 9.

“The scores probably weren’t as low as we anticipated, but 1 over is not the worst,” Koepka mentioned. “Definitely didn’t shoot myself out of it, which very easily could have happened.”

Sergio Garcia hit a drive that by no means stopped rolling on No. 10 till it dropped over the sting of Barry Burn. The water was shallow sufficient for the previous Masters champion to smash by a ball rock and water to get the membership on the ball and escape with out additional harm.

Carnoustie was not form to everybody.

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 participant, managed just one birdie in his spherical of 76, his highest begin within the Open since his debut at Turnberry in 2009. Masters champion Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson and Garcia had been all at 75 and now have to fret about simply attending to the weekend.

On the longest day — from Sandy Lyle hitting the opening tee shot at 6:35 a.m. and the group together with newcomer Bronson Burgoon ending off the primary spherical practically 13 hours later — everybody had their own type of getting across the course reputed to be the hardest hyperlinks in golf.

“Different players are going to have a different way to see how they’re going to play this golf course,” McIlroy mentioned. “I know Tiger is out there hitting a lot of irons off tees and doing it his own way. No one’s going to argue with him — he did it like at Hoylake, and he was able to win there.”

There’s one distinction, Woods mentioned.

“Hoylake is flat. This is not,” Woods mentioned. “And when Hideki hits a 3-wood 400 yards into a burn, you know it’s kind of quick. A couple of my 6-irons went about 240. It’s hard for people to understand it, but it’s just the nature of this golf course.”

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