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Young tames Old Course to take The Open clubhouse lead

Cameron Young of the US in action on the 4th during the first round. -- Reuters
Cameron Young of the US in action on the 4th during the first round. -- Reuters

ST ANDREWS, Scotland: Cameron Young carded an opening round eight-under 64 to grab the early clubhouse lead at the 150th British Open on Thursday, while Claret Jug favourite Rory McIlroy was on the charge as golfers attacked a defenceless Old Course.

There had been worries in the run up to the season's final major that calm winds and firm, fast conditions would leave the ancient layout vulnerable to low scoring and that's exactly what happened with early starters taking full advantage.

Playing his first ever round at The Open, the 25-year-old American made it a memorable one as he challenged the major championship record score of 62 set by Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in 2017, returning a clean card to sit three clear of Australian Cameron Smith, who birdied the last for a 67.

One shot further back in the clubhouse are Kurt Kitayama and British amateur Barclay Brown on 68.

Young, who last month had held a share of the first-round lead at the Memorial Tournament before finishing in a tie for 60th, will not feel like he has much breathing room with a chasing pack that includes world number two McIlroy and twice champion Ernie Els nipping at his spikes.

McIlroy got his day off to a flying start rolling in a 55-footer for birdie at the first while picking more birdies at five, six and seven and another at the 12th to get to five-under with six to play.

Els, champion in 2002 and 2012, was rolling back the years as he joined the Northern Irishman at five-under with holes remaining.

Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion, got the action started in an early morning chill at the "Home of Golf", the Scotsman given the honour of hitting the first shot at St. Andrews.

Ian Poulter, one of several golfers among the early starters who have signed on with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, was greeted by boos on the first tee.

But it was not long before England's Ryder Cup hero was hearing the cheers again rolling in a 150-footer for an eagle on the par four ninth.

Poulter's round would stall on the back nine but he would still return a 69 to join a pack includes Bryson DeChambeau five off the pace.

The afternoon wave will not lack for marquee attractions, led by Tiger Woods, who continues his comeback from a 2021 car crash that nearly resulted in the loss of his right leg, on the course he counts as his favourite in the world.

Woods, twice Open champion at St Andrews, begins his bid for a 16th major title at 1459 GMT alongside Briton Matthew Fitzpatrick, who won this year's U.S. Open.

World number one Scottie Scheffler is also among the late starters as is world number three Jon Rahm of Spain. -- Reuters

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