Lamprecht, Grillo and Fleetwood set early pace at The Open

Round 1 

Tommy Fleetwood is part of a three-way tie for the lead after the opening round of The 151st Open, as Rory McIlroy battled back after a frustrating start to his latest bid for an elusive fifth major victory.

Fleetwood made three consecutive birdies on his way to an opening-round 66 at Royal Liverpool, seeing him move alongside South African amateur Christo Lamprecht, before Emiliano Grillo joined the pair on five under when he signed off his round with a 50-foot birdie at the last.

Brian Harman is within one of the lead and US Open champion Wyndham Clark is two off the pace, with 2017 winner Jordan Spieth in the group three behind and world No 1 Scottie Scheffler starting his week with a one-under 70.

McIlroy – who won The Open the last time it was held in Hoylake in 2014 and aiming to end his nine-year major drought – was seven behind with five holes of his opening round remaining, only to battle back over his closing holes to salvage a level-par 71 and stay within five of the lead.

South African amateur Christo Lamprecht was a real surprise package on day one.

Amateur Championship winner Lamprecht made his early move with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the third and another at the 10th, then cancelled out a bogey at the next with back-to-back gains from the 14th to briefly go three clear.

Lamprecht bounced back from a bogey at the 16th to take advantage of the par-five last and post the second-lowest opening round by an amateur in Open history, while Fleetwood was only one under for his round until a 25-foot birdie at the 11th sparked an impressive finish.

The Englishman birdied the 14th, took advantage of the par-five next and holed another long-range effort at the 16th to move to five under, with Grillo battling back from bogeying two of his first three holes to register seven birdies and complete the trio on five under.

Harman holed a long-range birdie on his final hole to join Antoine Rozner and Adrian Otaegui on four under, with Clark, 2009 champion Stewart Cink, Alex Noren and Max Homa all within two of the lead, while home favourite Matthew Jordan started with a two-under 69 after hitting the opening tee shot of the tournament.

Emiliano Grillo of Argentina putts on the 3rd green.

Jordan Spieth, the 2017 champion, is also three back and world No 1 Scheffler birdied two of his last four holes to join reigning PGA champion Brooks Koepka four behind, as McIlroy followed his dramatic Genesis Scottish Open success on Sunday by mixing three birdies with as many bogeys in a level-par 71.

McIlroy was two over for his round until he followed a 40-foot birdie at the 14th by taking advantage of the par-five next, with the world No 2 then recovering from taking two attempts out of a greenside bunker to salvage an unlikely par at the last.

Defending champion Cameron Smith opened with a one-over 72 and world No 3 Jon Rahm struggled to a three-over 74, while two-time major champion Justin Thomas sits tied-154th in the 156-player field after signing off a 11-over 82 with a quadruple-bogey nine on the final hole.

Seamus Power carded 14 pars en route to a steady 71. The Waterford native, whose best major finish was tied-9th at last year’s PGA Championship, birdied the par-5s at the 5th and 15th, cancelled out by back-to-back bogeys at 6 and 7.

Shane Lowry endured a frustrating finish, with bogeys at 13 and 15 as he posted a one over par 71.

McIlroy remains within touching distance but will need a strong round tomorrow.

The 36-year-old, who finished in the top-10 at this venue in 2014, began strongly with an opening birdie. He reached the turn at even par, with another birdie at 4, mingled with dropped strokes at the 3rd and 9th.

He clambered back under par with a eight foot putt for birdie on 11 but there followed a messy stretch in the middle of the back nine, wild driving costing him at the short 13th and then the long 15th, having plunged both the shots into the rough.

Meath amateur Alex Maguire, who booked his place in the tournament after winning the St Andrews Links Trophy, is just a shot behind McIlroy and Power on one-over par.

The 22-year old finished strongly with birdies on the par-5s at 15 and 18.

2011 champion Darren Clarke carded an opening 73, while two-time winner Padraig Harrington battled his way to a three over par 74, after a horrible stretch in the front nine, when he went bogey/bogey/double-bogey between the 5th and 7th.

The Dubliner recovered with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 keeping him in with a decent chance of remaining around for the weekend.

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