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July 14, 2010

British Open Live Coverage: Round 1 Blog

Posted at 5:57 PM by Live Blogger | Categories: 2010 Nerve Center, British Open Round 1

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Golf Magazine's Connell Barrett and Mike Walker live-blogged the first round of the British Open on Thursday. The blog will resume on Friday at 7 a.m. Eastern.

2:59pm That's my time, Golf.commies. Later. Enjoy the Open.  

2:57pm My bold prediction for the next three days? John Daly isn't going away. He's way overdue -- and way too talented -- to play well in a big event. And no course is better suited to Daly's style (and silky short game) than the Old Course. Greg Norman in '08. Watson last year. J.D. will be the feel-good story for 2010. I don't know if he'll win, but he'll be there Sunday. Count on it! (Of course, I also bought 10,000 shares of B.P. stock early this year, so ... what the hell do I know?)

2:53pm Phil speaks! He did a quick, post-round interview and was fairly candid about how the weather affected his round and his mood. On bad luck with his tee time, he said: "It happens... It kind of crept into my attitude starting out... Kind of affected my attitude. I fought hard today. I made some poor swings and drove it poorly. It [bad luck with the weather] happens a lot over here, and hopefully I'll get the good end tomorrow... [There were] a lot of birdies out there. I felt like a 66 was out there, but the [weather] conditions changed, and all of a sudden [shooting] around par wasn't too bad. Tomorrow, I'm gonna need some luck, the good end of the weather. Though the forecast is terrible in the morning [when Phil tees off] and is supposed to clear up in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it seems like I'm at the bad end of the draw right now."

2:46pm Scott chimes in again... 

How cool would it be to see Daly thrown in with those guys? I really don't see Daly being in contention by Sunday and if he was in the final group I'd probably be watching him through the hands over my eyes but what a spectacle it would be.


2:44pm Tomorrow's forecast calls for dark, stormy clouds to follow Phil Mickelson around the course.

2:40pm A reader asked about tomorrow's tee times. Here they are.

2:37pm Another victim of the Road Hole, as Johnson makes bogey. It should be playing even tougher tomorrow, without, we can presume, the calm conditions we saw this morning. It should be blowing at about 20 mph for round 2.

2:33pm OK, just a handful of groups are still on the course. Zach Johnson hits a nice shot to escape the Road Hole bunker.

2:29pm Goosen drops a 20-footer on no. 18, to card a solid 3-under 69.  Playing in the same group, from 5 feet, Phil finally rolls in a birdie, for a 1-over 73 -- with 16 pars.

2:26pm Using one of his 14 wedges, Phil lobs it over the Valley of Sin and parks it about 4 feet under the hole. He'll have that for birdie, to get to 1-over.

2:23pm Phil rips his drive on 18 some 330 yards, finding the left side of the fairway, coming to rest just in front of the Valley of Sin. He'll have to pull off an adventurous little up-and-down for his first and only birdie of the day.

2:19pm Ben Cooper says Rory is hungry for victory:

Rory brings the Ruckus, golfing wise. He will split this course in two and eat one half.

2:16pm Phil drains his par putt. He approaches the 18th tee with one last chance at birdie.

2:15pm From at least 80 feet, Phil leaves his birdie try woefully short -- 10-12 feet. He'll have that for par on no. 17.

2:13pm Fun and games at the Road Hole. Phil hits the green in two, so no disaster for Lefty, though he'll have a lengthy uphill birdie putt. Meanwhile, lying 4 in the Road Hole bunker and a couple feet from the bunker's front wall, Monty hit a lovely shot that ... just ... barely... escapes. He'll have a shot at bogey. 

2:09pm Now on the tee... Paul Mahoney, a Golf.com contributor who reports from the Old Course:

This is the 36th consecutive Open for official starter Ivor Robson. And he still hasn't been to the toilet.

Thanks, Paul "Too Much Information" Mahoney

2:05pm Scott Westemeyer writes:

Why not McIlroy? He's never shot worse than 69 there and this is a great way to start, only feeding his confidence which isn't in short abundance. He's still got to beat the rest of the field of course, but I see him in the final pairing on Sunday with...? I'll put $20 on Tiger.

Scott, no matter who wins, I'd pony up $20 just to see that match-up.

2:01pm Back to Bryon's comment... I just think we're way overdue in golf for a young gun -- a 20-something stud with tons of talent -- to announce his greatness at a major, with a win. We thought it might be Sergio, but nope. How long's it been since a Future Great in his 20s won a major? Tiger at the 1997 Masters? It's time. This feels like Rory's year.  

1:57pm Philly Mick 2-putts for par on no. 16. With two holes to play, he has as many birdies today as I've had. And his arch-enemy -- the Road Hole -- awaits.

1:55pm Bryon Neufeld isn't sold on Rory Mac going wire-to-wire, what with the pressure of a major:

he played really good last week (or two weeks ago) in his tuneup for the Open, finishing second. he is definitely a streaky player, and if he stays on a roll, he could run away and hide. but if he doesn't run and hide, so to speak, i don't think he will be able to stand the pressure come the weekend.

1:51pm Not that I'm making excuses for him. Phil's driving has been dodgy all day, and he looks lethargic.

1:50pm From some 180 yards out, Phil finds the right side of the 16th green... the TV guys point out that earlier today, John Daly, in much better playing conditions, had only 74 yards into the same green. 100 yards closer! Phil's a classy guy, and I can't imagine in his post-round comments he'll make a single excuse, but he must feel unlucky to be playing in the afternoon.

1:46pm Westwood pars the 18th hole -- missing a good look at birdie -- for a 67, 5-under, 4 behind Rory.

1:42pm Phil's first birdie [dramatic pause]... will have to wait. He lips out on no. 15, for another par. He remains 11 strokes off the lead.

1:39pm I think Rory can win this week because he has the mind to. Totally shameless plug! Check out a profile I wrote on him. What stands out is the towering confidence to match the towering tee shots. He's comfortable in the big moments. The piece's opening story speaks to his self-belief (Ahh, I love quoting myself...):

Nineteen-year-old Rory McIlroy had a decision to make. In the second round of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral's Blue Monster in Miami earlier this year, his drive at the par-5 8th left him 268 frightening yards over water and into a Wizard of Oz wind.

"I'm going for it," McIlroy told his caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald.

"No one's getting there today," Fitzgerald objected.

The kid from Northern Ireland pulled his 3-wood.

"It's time for a Rory McIlroy special."

McIlroy unleashed a skyscraping shot — complete with a cocksure club twirl — that rolled to six feet. He made eagle and shot 66. "It was the best shot I've ever seen," said Fitzgerald, who has caddied for Ernie Els and Darren Clarke.

1:33pm Question for the board: Can Rory Mac -- who I believe is 13-years-old -- go wire-to-wire to win a major? Is he too young? Too inexperienced? Too many split ends? (Westwood, by the way, misses his birdie try on no. 17 and taps in for par.) 

1:30pm Hell hole! No. 17 is playing at about 4.6 today, a huge number considering how easy the Old Course was playing earlier today.

1:27pm Now 11 behind Rory Mac, Mickelson finds the fairway on the par-4 15th. The rain seems to have lightened a bit.

1:25pm Westwood stings -- and possibly mis-hits? -- a low, hooking 4-iron on the Road Hole that trundles to about 8 feet, for birdie.

1:22pm Oh my. Geoff Ogilvy's approach on 16 doesn't quite carry the ridge, prompting an audible, "Fudge

off!" from the Aussie -- except he didn't say "Fudge." Somewhere, Johnny Miller just did a Schweppes spit-take.

1:18pm Phil horseshoes a long birdie putt on 14 -- it's in and out. Tap-in par. Just one of those days for the World No. 2.

1:17pm Casey curls in his par putt on no. 17, to stay at 2-under. That feels like a birdie, to be sure.

1:16pm On the par-5 14th, Phil hacks out what I think was his third shot to about 50 feet.

1:12pm Oh, and Phil has to do it in a stinging rain... Meanwhille, Paul Casey, at 2-under, chipped it to about 12 feet on the Road Hole. He'll have that for par.

1:10pm Well, Phil has to be thinking of somehow getting back to even par on the round (he's currently 2-over). He uncorked a big drive on the par-5 14th, giving him a good birdie chance, and no. 18 is also a birdie hole. (Of course, there's his pesky 12-over career record at no. 17, but let's think positive!)

1:07pm And here comes sideways rain from the North Sea. They've opened the dome. Ahh, this is British Open golf.

1:04pm Guest ESPN commentator Greg Norman on Lefty: "He is an aggresive plauyer, that's what he does. I'd like to see him throttle back a little, get the ball in the fairway, and place it around. He won his first major [the 2004 Masters] by throttling back a little." So sayeth a two-time British Open champion.

1:01pm Nooo! Phil misses a 4-footer for bogey, and taps in for double, on his Lucky No. 13. Rory, Phil's got ya where he wants ya...

12:57pm Ha! Great line from Geoff Ogilvy, in an excellent ESPN feature on the Road Hole: "There are so many different ways to play it, and none of them are right."

12:52pm On the par-4 13th, Lefty left his approach (after a wayward drive) right of the green. He nips a nifty little wedge but it falls 10-12 feet short of the hole. He'll have that to save his par, and to avoid falling [gulp] 10 strokes behing Rory Mac.

12:49pm Ricky Barnes knocks in his par putt on 18, to card a 68... just 5 behind Rory Mac. How impressive has Barnes been in majors since Bethpage last year? Very! His game really travels well on the big courses, even though he doesn't show up too often in regular Tour events. He's like the Bizarro Briny Baird.

12:46pm Westwood dang-near jars a zillion-foot eagle putt on no. 14. He'll tap in for birdie from a couple inches and get back to 5-under.

12:45pm Phil (No) Fun Fact! For him, the Road Hole is Public Enema No. 1 -- he's a whopping 12-over for his career on 17 at the Open.

12:40pm Do you agree with Zinger? He just said it would be really hard for Phil to come back this week, being unlucky with the tee times and 9 strokes behind Rory Mac. Come on, Paul... it's Thursday. Let's see what tomorrow's weather holds. It's awfully early to say, "Better luck next year, Phil."

12:37pm Ha! Overheard, Phil to caddie "Bones" as they walked off of no. 12. "Bones, we've made some interesting pars..."

12:33pm Phil played his second to about 60 yards short of the green on 12, then hits a nifty half-wedge that (lucky for Lefty) chugs right into the pin and stops a few inches from the hole. From potentially hitting 3 off the tee to a tap in for par. Never a dull moment with Mickelson.

He really is our Arnie. I remember a line from Rick Reilly about Palmer: "He could make buttering his toast exciting." Ditto, our Lefty.

12:31pm Pulling driver on the par-4 12th, Mickelson pulls driver and pops it long and left and into the gorse left of the fairway. He slams his club back into his bag, then hits a provisional... but they found his tee shot, apparently. Good news for Lefty.

12:29pm Westwood blasts a big drive on the par-5 14th. Greg Norman, doing commentary for ESPN, boldly states: "He's such a great ball-striker. If he could sort out his chipping [and short game] I guarantee you he would reach No. 1"

12:24pm Westwood jabs a 4-footer for par on 13 and drops a shot. He's at 4-under.

12:22pm There's also the comfort issue. I sense that Phil prefers the Southern California, hit-it-high target golf that he grew up with and simply feels uncomfortable playing links golf across the pond.

OK, back to the action... 

12:19pm So, back to Phil. I recently put the question to Brandel Chamblee, and he said (I'm paraphrasing) that Phil's British woes come from two sources: Poor driving and improper preparation. Phil's not a great driver of the ball, in terms of accuracy. And you aren't gonna win Open Championships hacking out of hay and splashing out of pot bunkers. And he hasn't shown the same kind of pre-round dedication/practice to the British that he's shown at, say, the Masters. Two weeks ago, Phil played Loch Lomond... a fine course, but a parkland course... not a links layout.  

Bad driving + questionable preparation = one career British Top 10 for, perhaps, the most talented, creative, shot-shaping player in the world.

12:16pm Vijay Singh misses a fairly short birdie putt on the Road Hole. Oh, Veej! We mortals feel your putting pain.

12:15pm From 60 feet on the 11th green, Phil hits a right-to-left bender for birdie to about 3-4 feet, below the hole. A nice lag.

12:13pm Blog reader "Lord" Byron Neufeld chimes in:

phil doesn't play a lot of low, running shots. he likes the high, quick stopping shots more. the british is all about getting the ball on the ground and using the contours. that's my thought, anyway.

12:10pm Lefty pulls his tee shot on the par-3 11th. He'll have a good 50-feet for birdie.

12:08pm Some interesting takes on Phil's poor British Open history, with only one top 5 in his career. One Mr. Ben Cooper writes:

Phil himself seems to think its been his inability to hit the peircing irons required. He said he only begun to understand in 2004 how to take more club and swing easier. Since his game everywhere else seems to be take less club and swing harder, that would be a tough adjustment to make. Since then, putting has probably been as big a factor as anything.

12:05pm Oh. Maybe Watson meant the course. "She'll put up her dukes and hit you a bunch of times," Watson adds, referring to the rough weather you typically see at St. Andrews.

12:03pm Watson! He joins Tirico in the booth at ESPN. "The Grand Old Lady was embarrassed today," he says. Well, geez, that's a nasty thing to say about Colin Montgomerie. Not classy, Tom.

12:01pm Sergio parred no. 10. On the par-3 11th, he sticks his iron to about 18-20 feet.  

11:58am Lefty two-putts for his par on no. 10. He remains birdie-free on his round.

11:56am On 12, Westwood hits a short pitch well past the green -- a good 50 feet. Putting back up the slope, though, he knocks it to a few inches for an easy tap-in par. He'll stay at 5-under.

11:53am Phil leaves his approach on 11 on the green but well short of the hole -- 30 feet, or so. He slumps his shoulders and lets out an "Oh, man..." His body language screams, "I'd rather be in San Diego."

You wonder if Phil feels bummed out about the weather. It's hardly howling out there, but it's a good club or two, and Rory and company had no breeze to deal with.

11:50am Fun fact: Rory hit 17 of 18 greens today! 

11:47am And Oosty saves his par on no. 18, to card an opening-round 65. He's 2 behind Rory Mac.

11:45am Updates! On no. 9, Phil makes a nice right-to-left par putt. On 10, Sergio has a nice look at birdie -- about 20 feet -- to get to 2-under. And at 11, Westwood drains his 5-foot par putt to stay at 5-under.

11:41am Oosty's birdie putt through the Valley halts about 4 feet from the hole. Meanwhile on no. 9 Phil hits a long, lovely putt from the fairway, where the grass is cut much like the greens. He'll have 4-5 feet to save his par. A creative play. Who says Phil can't play links golf?

11:40am "Though I walk through the shadow of the Valley of Sin..." Oosty's putt through the Valley on 18 falls woefully short. He'll have to get up and down to save par and stay at 7-under, 2 behind Rory.

11:38am Phil splashes out of the bunker in the ninth fairway. He'll need a crafty up-and-down to save par.

11:36am Phil pulls a 3-wood on the tee of the drivable par-4 9th, but he pokes it into a pot bunker in the fairway. An unforced error. Dear readers, I am NO Phil Mickelson, but I've been in that bunker, and I'm predicting Phil makes bogey. Bunkers at the British are usually a one-stroke penalty.

11:32am Question for the board! What's up with Phil at the British? How can a man with his talent and creativity -- a 4-time major winner -- ONLY have one top-5 in his career in the Open Championship?

11:29am Westwood, on the par-3 11th, carves an iron safely to back-right side of the green. He steers well clear of the front bunker. Westwood is at 5-under, 4 behind Rory with a LOT of golf left to play. Could we have two 63's today? Westwood -- the hottest player in majors over the last two years -- certainly has a shot.

11:28am On no. 8, Goosen will tap in for par, to stay at 2-under. Phil pulls putter from just off the back of the green, and knocks it up the bank to kick-in range. A par for Phil.

11:26am Oosty can't save par on no. 17, missing a 12-footer for par. He'll tap in for par and head to 18 at 7-under, two strokes behind Rory Mac.

11:24am Hitting downwind on the par-3 8th, Phil hits an iron that would have stuck close earlier today in calmer conditions, but instead trickles just off the back of the green. A potential 10-footer for birdie is now a long putt or chip off the green for Phil. A bit of bad luck for Lefty.

11:21am Reason No. 37 that the British is my favorite non-Masters major: Peter Alliss. Earlier, ESPN's cameras showed a goatee-sporting Scot with his baby in his arms, and the BBC broadcasting icon said, "There's a proud father. Or perhaps proud mum. These days, you never know..." 

11:19am Phil misses an 18-footer for birdie on 7, to remain even par on the day. Phil just can't get anything going so far today. It's a bit of bad luck, as the Old Course is playing a good two strokes harder now than it was earlier today, when it was so calm, Tiger said it was like playing "in a dome."

11:17am Just one off the lead, at 8-under, Oosthuizen -- Oosty, from now on -- eludes the famed bunker on the Road Hole 17th. He'll have to get up and down to stay one off of Rory Mac.

11:13am Let's go to the phones! Eric from L.A. writes: "Daly is back! But he could have gone MUCH lower. He should have shot a 59." Well, he's back for one day, anyway. Let's see how he handles it between the ears on Friday when he makes a double-bogey. But I hope JD is there come Sunday.

Speaking of, check out Alan Bastable's very fine article on the Diet Coke-slurpin' Daly, just posted.

11:09am Westwood gets it to 5-under, but on no. 13 Barnes leaves his birdie putt short, to remain at 4-under, 5 behind Rory Mac.

11:07am Thanks, Mike! Another strong, hard-working effort. You are without a doubt the James Brown of live-blogging, by which I mean you're an amazing dancer and you need a cape draped over your exhausted frame to get off the stage.

I'm with you the rest of the way here for Day 1 of the 437th (give or take) Open Championship. Let's do this thing...

11 am That'll do it for me today. Thanks for everyone who read and commented, except for that guy Steve. He was annoying. Connell Barrett is here for the rest of the day. Enjoy!

10:59 am Mickelson (even) hits his approach on 6 tight, and he'll have a great chance at birdie. Hard to believe Mickelson won't post a low score in these scoring conditions.

10:58 am Ricky Barnes at 4-under through 12. Like Tiger, maybe Ricky should only play majors too.

10:55 am How easy is the Old Course playing today? Even par is good for T73.

10:50 am Reader JTLinATL asks: What is the weather doing - has it gotten worse? Were they just way off on the forecast? What are they saying now for the rest of the week?

The weather's great. Patchy sun, warm. The wind is up a little this afternoon, but it is St. Andrews after all. After his round Tiger talked about how weird it was to play the Old Course without any wind.

The extended forecast calls for some rain and a little more wind, but guys are going to be able to score.

(Of course, Scottish weatherman is the world's third-toughest job, after Alaskan fisherman and being Vijay's caddie.)

10:49 a.m. Lee Westwood gets to 4-under with a birdie on 8. Reports of the course toughening up this afternoon might have been exaggerated.

10:45 a.m. New Live Blog Rule: If you shoot 66, no one can make fun of your pants.Yes, Dan Patrick, we mean you.

10:41 a.m. Mickelson makes another par on 5. That's five in a row. Hey, McIrloy didn't heat up until his eagle on 9.

10:36 a.m. Lee Westwood is 3-under after 7. I saw him speak at a golf writers dinner earlier in the week and he was great. Told PGA Tour commish Tom Finchem that he was happy to see Steve Stricker win in Milwaukee because it was "lovely to see an American guy win on your Tour."

10:32 a.m. Wow! Louis Oosthuizen is 8-under after a birdie on 15. One stroke behind the guy who just tied the best round ever at a major. These guys are killing the course today. Wonder what the course has in mind for revenge later in the tournament.

10:28 a.m. Keep in mind that if you dress like Rickie Folwer on the course, you might get beat up by some locals at the bar after your round.

Fowler is 1-over through 7.

10:25 a.m. Grame McDowell (even) overcooks his approach on 6. "Oh, Graeme, what are you doing?" he exclaims. Somewhere, Jim Nantz is offended.

10:21 a.m South African Louis Oosthuizen is alone in second place at 7-under after a birdie on 14. I'm going to have to practice saying that name.

10:20 a.m. Does anybody know what Hank Haney is going in St. Andrews? Looking for work?

10:16 a.m. Mickelson makes his second shot to the fourth green and leaves himself a midrange putt. I'm not sure there's a word for the color of Mickelson's shirt. Maybe "raspberry sherbet"?

10:13 a.m Golf.com's Man in Europe Paul Mahoney checks in via Twitter: Rory's 9 rounds on the Old Course: 69, 69 (both as amateur), 67, 68, 67, 68, 65, 69, 63. Not too shabby, eh?

10:10 a.m. If you just started following the British Open today, I'm afraid you missed the good parts.

10:08 a.m. Adam Scott is 1-under through 6 with Tiger Woods' old swing. Quietly, he's starting to play better after his lost 2009.

10:03 a.m. Paul Casey makes a nice birdie putt on 6 to get to 2-under. If he's going to start being a regular major contender, now is the time.

9:58 a.m. Mickelson (even) is going to make another par on 3, and Monty (even). Goosen misses a short one, however, and drops to 1-under. Expression never changes, he must be fearsome at Texas Hold 'Em.

9:53 a.m. Longtime reader Richard Holtzclaw writes: Speaking of outfits when is someone going to put Daly, Poulter, and Fowler all together in a group? Might need a screensaver for your flat screen to prevent screen burn in.

Agreed, Richard, but when you shoot 66, you look good in anything.

9:51 a.m. Rickie Fowler is even par through 5. This Open is a learning experience for Folwer, kind of like his study abroad. Fowler's future looks great, but right now he's not as polished as McIlroy and Ishikawa.

9:48 a.m. The Goose is loose. Two holes, two birdies. Ladbrokes' odds on Goosen exhibiting recognizable human emotion during the tournament are at 70 to 1.

9:47 a.m. Mickelson on No. 2: decent tee shot, terrible second, otherworldly chip to inches, tap-in. Just another average par in Phil World.

9:43 a.m. Sergio Garcia is 1-over through 2. When Spain won the World Cup, it might have been the first time Garcia smiled since his breakup with Greg Norman's daughter. Won't be long until you see the Golf.com headline 'Re-Serge-ence."

9:41 a.m. Retief Goosen's never won a British Open, but he usually plays well in the tournament, with seven top 10s in 15 Open Championships. He's 1-under through No. 1. He's also a lot more talkative than you might think.

9:36 a.m. Nice birdie putt for Graeme McDowell on No. 2 to get back to par. Of these three one-major guys -- Geoff Ogilvy, Graeme McDowell and Y.E. Yang -- I like McDowell's future the best.

9:33 a.m. "I couldn't have scored any worse today," Padraig Harrington says after a first-round 73.

9:30 a.m. Phil Mickelson makes a par on 1. He got the short end of the draw today. The wind's gusting and I don't think there are anymore 63s or 66s out there.

9:26 a.m. It's early, but Tom Watson (1-over) is the clubhouse leader for most memorable post-round quote of the tournament for his description of the course today: "The lady didn't have any clothes on today. She was there for the taking."

(I'm speechless.)

9:24 a.m. Ricky Barnes is 3-under through 6. When are we going to start taking him seriously in majors.

9:20 a.m. Phil Mickelson is on the course, playing with Monty and Retief Goosen. Is this a golf tournament or a special episode of Men of Certain Age?

9:18 a.m. Henrik Stenson finishes with a 4-under 68. Have we ever figured out why the Swedes are so good at golf?

9:17 a.m. Lord Voldemort would almost have to be a member of the R&A, right?

9:14 a.m. The Americans are coming! Some low scores from the Yanks so far today. In addition to Daly (66) and Woods (67), Lucas Glover, Nick Watney and Sean O'Hair all posted 67s.

9:10 a.m. Highlights from Tiger's post-round comments to the BBC:

On the weather: "It was actually awkward because it was no wind. You could see the guys were being pretty aggressive out there."

On his new putter: "It rolled well. I made a lot of good putts today."

On John Daly's 66: "It's great to see John playing well. we all know he knows how to play this course."

On low scoring today: "It's awkward you have to be 5-under to be in top 10. I don't remember a major tournament being like this."

On the crowds: "There were extremely respectful and enthusiastic as well."

As Peter Alliss charitably summed up on the BBC, "Tiger Woods, concise as always."

9:05 a.m. Padraig Harrington in with a 1-over 73. Watson posts 73 as well. Disappointing scores, especially for Harrington. The guy won this thing two of the last three times and now he'll be lucky to be third Irishman.

9:03 a.m. I guess a lot of time has passed since Thanksgiving since I didn't hear any jokes about Tiger being in the Valley of Sin on 18 today.

8:59 a.m. David Duval in dead last with a first round 77. Some days the bear gets you, and Duval's had more than his share.

8:57 a.m. Another missed midrange birdie putt for Tiger Woods, who will finish with 5-under 67, 4 shots behind Rory McIlroy. He'll take that.

8:54 a.m. Tiger (5-under) gets to about 8 feet under his hole for a decent chance at birdie. No matter what happens, this is a heck of a start for Woods. Maybe he should just play majors.

8:51 a.m. Tom Watson makes an important par save on 17. He's 1-over. Old Tom is playing with Ryo Ishikawa (3-under) and Padraig Harrington (1-over). The weather might not be bad enough for Paddy.

8:47 a.m. Lee Westwood just teed off on No. 1. This tournament sets up perfectly for him, but his calf injury sounds like it could be more serious than he's letting on. The local sports book Ladbrokes has Westwood at 20 to 1.

8:46 a.m. Woods takes out his frustration over that Road Hole bogey with a bomb on 18 that lands just short of the 18th green in the famous Valley of Sin.

8:41 a.m. Tiger misses his par putt on 17, drops to 5-under. Can I still cancel that Nike Method putter order?

8:36 a.m. I've never liked describing greens as looking like a "buried elephant," but Woods putts across the mounds on 17 and gives himself a chance at saving par with a 6-footer. Let's say this green looks like a "buried Tim Herron" instead.

8:33 a.m. A charming, cheerful Colin Montgomerie talks to the BBC before he tees off Mickelson and Goosen at 9:20 a.m. Monty's great to talk to before a tournament and especially when he's playing well. If Monty had a bad round, you're better off asking Tiger about Jaimee Grubbs.

8:31 a.m. Tiger muscles an iron from the rough to the front of the 17th green. I hear he's been working out.

8:29 a.m. I like the wide-angle shots of Woods on the course. With all the media and cameras following him, the 17th fairway looks busier than my wedding reception.

8:27 a.m. Ian Poulter finishes with a quiet 71. Really nice in this day and age to see someone who doesn't seek attention.

8:25 a.m. Ernie Els finishes 3-4-3 to get home with a 3-under 69. This would be the year of Ernie, except for the majors.

8:22 a.m. At 6-under, Woods is on the tee of the Road Hole (No. 17). He hooks a 3-wood into the rough. "First bad swing he's made today," the BBC's Alliss says.

8:20 a.m. The defending champ Stewart Cink is on the 18th green at 2-under. The nicest guy in golf was a good champion.

8:16 a.m. Woods hits his 60-foot putt to 6 inches. Orders for Nike's Method putter suddenly spike.

8:13 a.m. Reader Kevin Baker asks: Who cares what Daly was wearing!! Holy Geez!!! Where did find that 66!!!??

He says he's finally feeling healthy again and he clearly loves the course. It can't last, but it was nice to see the Babe Ruth of golf with the lead at a major this morning.

8:12 a.m. Tiger hits his approach on 16 to the green, the second green. He'll have a l------o--------n--------g putt for birdie.

8:10 a.m. Sean O'Hair (6-under) hit a putt on 16 that looked like it would and broke away from the hole at the last minute. Daly said he had a few like that as well. If the afternoon guys were watching these putts on TV, we could see even lower scores later today.

8:06 a.m. Tiger Woods' tee shot is safe on 16. It's too early to speculate on Woods vs. McIlroy showdown at St. Andrews, right? Right.

8:04 a.m. "The weather's perfect out there for scoring and the guys who go out this afternoon are going to enjoy themselves," Rory says after his best-Open-round ever 63.

8:02 a.m. The sun's shining in St. Andrews so Camilo Villegas (4-under) took off his sweater to show off his muscles.

8 a.m. The Ladbrokes sportsbook saw McIlroy coming. He was the second favorite along with Phil Mickelson at 16 to 1. Woods was the favorite at 6 to 1. The next guys were Lee Westwood, Ernie Els and Justin Rose (all 20 to 1)

7:58 a.m. Sorry, John, we've got a new top story. Rory McIlroy birdies the 18th hole to shoot 63, tying the record-low at a majors. At 9-under, McIlroy is a full 3 shots ahead of the field.

7:56 a.m. Tiger doesn't look too happy with his second shot on 15 -- he finds the green but has about 20 feet for birdie. Of course, he never looks that happy, although cameras did catch him smiling a couple times today.

7:55 a.m. No one looks good in rain pants.

7:52 a.m. Nick Watney makes a 8-footer for par on 18 to finish 5-under. Guess he learned something during that loose Monday practice round with Mickelson and Dustin Johnson -- which ended with Watney missing a playoff putt on 18.

7:50 a.m. Woods hits a perfect 3-wood off the tee on 15. His playing partner Justin Rose, the hottest man on Tour, does the same. Rose is 3-under for the day.

7:48 a.m. Woods sinks a five-footer for his two-putt birdie on No. 14. Now 6-under and just two shots back. An hour ago, I would have guessed that John Daly would be the day's big story. Not anymore.

7:45 a.m. Yup, we jinxed him. Rory misses his birdie putt on 17 and makes par. Still 8-under. Course record of 63 is still in his sights.

"Don't worry, it's not the last one you'll miss, mate." These BBC announcers are great.

7:43 a.m. Not to jinx him, but the first-ever 62 at a major is in play for McIlroy after that approach on 17. Let's hope Arnold Palmer is having his breakfast at Rusacks Hotel overlooking 17 and 18 and enjoying the scene.

7:39 a.m. Sean O'Hair makes birdie on 14 to get to 7-under, just one shot behind McIlroy. Rory responds by sticking his approach on 17 to about 5 feet. I thought the wise geezers were supposed to have the advantage here. 

7:37 a.m. Woods reaches the par-5 14th in two. Toto, I don't think we're at Aronimink anymore.

7:34 a.m. U.S Open champion Graeme McDowell talks to the BBC before his tee time in about an hour's time. He's been getting ready by watching the TV coverage and checking the pin positions. That solo U.S. Open champion group of McDowell, Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy group will be interesting to follow later this morning.

7:32 a.m. Bogey for Ryo Ishikawa on 13, now 3-under. I'd still pay Ryo for a putting lesson. How does he make such a soft, smooth stroke?

7:31 a.m. Tom Watson is 2-over through 12 and still has that look in his eyes that says, "I know something that nobody else playing here knows."

7:29 a.m. I didn't see the odds for Daly to win last night at Ladbrokes betting house, but he was 50 to 1 to finish as top American. Woods was 9 to 4 on this wager. (Gambling's legal here, it sort of evens things out after the haggis.)

7:25 a.m. I sense some Daly skepticism from reader Art C: Yeah yeah 6 under but what outrageous outfit was he wearing?

Actually Daly looked subdued from the waist-up with a light-blue sweater vest and pink shirt -- or as Peter Alliss might say, a sunburn-hued shirt. Of course he was wearing purple paisley pants he must have borrowed from Prince.

7:20 a.m. Tiger Woods makes birdie on 13 to get to 5-under. Reason No. 27 why watching the Open on the BBC is so fun: Peter Aliss just described the color of Tiger Woods shirt as "crushed loganberry with cream." Jim Nantz, eat your heart out.

7:18 a.m. Lot of good names on the leaderboard: Hunter Mahan is T5 at 5-under. Last seen on a milk carton, Trevor Immelman is with Woods, Camilo Villegas, Henrik Stenson and Ryo Ishikawa at 4-under.

7:12 a.m. Don King couldn't have overhyped the nasty weather conditions at St. Andrews more than we media types did this week. Today it's warm, the wind is nonexistent, and St. Andrews Bay looks as calm as a swimming hole.

7:08 a.m. Greetings from St. Andrews, which is buzzing this morning from John Daly's 66. He didn't have the lead for long, however, as young Rory McIlroy is 8-under through 15. Sean O'Hair is tied with Daly for second at 6-under along with Scotsman Andrew Coltart. Tournament favorite Tiger Woods is 4-under through 12. We'll be with you all day, so leave a comment below and join the fun.

7:05 a.m. Holy Hooters, Batman! John Daly has the clubhouse lead at the British Open after shooting a 6-under 66.

Golf Magazine's Mike Walker will kick off Golf.com's live coverage of the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews on Thursday beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern.

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