Poulter and Rose set early pace during tough opening to Open


Indeed, the last seven majors have all been claimed by players who had never previously taken one of the sport's biggest prizes, including Brooks Koepka at last month's US Open and Henrik Stenson in The Open at Troon 12 months ago.

"Just being a fan thinking, this is fantastic".

Having already won a major championship this year - the first of his career - Koepka is ready for whatever the weekend brings.

After two squally, grimey days at Royal Birkdale, the American is the only golfer to have carded consecutive below par rounds. I didn't think the conditions got as bad as, when I was sitting on the couch this morning, what we expected. "You're not going to make many birdies today", Koepka said after his second round.

The 39-year-old, who has yet to win a major, found a bunker off the tee on the 18th, had to lay up and then left his third shot short, but was able to make a five on the par-four final hole.

However, the former Players champion could not convert a number of further chances on the inward half and settled for nine pars to remain tied for the lead, and one clear of Casey and Charl Schwartzel. Here's the way the top of the leaderboard looks heading into Friday.

The four-times major victor came into the tournament at Royal Birkdale having failed to make the cut in three of his last four competitions, and got off to a miserable start with bogeys at five of the first six holes. Prior to his first round at the 146th Open Championship, the 29-year-old insisted that if he maintained discipline and patience, the results would unfold at their own pace.

If he can do that, it would mean a 10th different victor in 10 majors, although it would end a remarkable run of the last seven being won by first-time major winners.

However, McIlroy has proved in the past he is made of stern stuff and a 18-foot birdie putt at the last completely changed his perspective of his round. In '08, the scoring average was 4.77, making it the second most hard hole at an Open Championship from 1982-2016 after the 17th at St. Andrews in 1984.

"Kooch is tough because he's so consistent", Spieth said.

T6. Ian Poulter (-3): Another old-timer looking for his first major, Poulter not only has England on his back but golf fans across the globe after battling to keep his PGA Tour status earlier this year.

When Kuchar went out it was windy, but at least it stayed dry, and the giant Florida-born player could very well have done better but for two bogeys in the last three holes. "If I can go out and play a good, quality round of golf in the morning and try to get in the clubhouse somewhere around even par, under par, I'll still be around for the weekend".

Although he was a non-factor at the U.S. Open, finishing in a tie for 35th, that's a better result than the other three top players he's been grouped with of late - Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson all missed the cut.

Spieth's sublime round came on a day in which the field was averaging little more than 50 per cent of greens hit on a demanding layout not known for low scoring.