Spieth, Koepka set the pace at windy Birkdale

Northern Ireland's Rory Mc Ilroy speaks with his caddie before his round during day one of The Open Championship 2017 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club Southport. Andrew Matthews  PA Wire

Didn't we learn that lesson when a fresh and rested Roger Federer won Wimbledon last weekend?

Americans Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar tamed a fiendish course in tough conditions to fire sparkling first-round 65s and lead the British Open by one shot on Thursday.

Jordan Spieth admitted it had been a near-perfect day after the world number three fired an ominous 65 in the first round of the British Open on Thursday to plant himself firmly in contention.

But he responded by holing his bunker splash-out for an eagle at the long 17th to join Spieth in the lead, although both looked likely to be upstaged by Kuchar when he stormed to the turn in just 29 blows with his fifth birdie at the ninth.

Spieth has come the closest to any player of repeating the kind of dominance that Woods enjoyed, producing a magnificent 2015 season when he captured the US Masters and US Open titles and came close to winning the British Open and US PGA Championship. But if his ball-striking and putting remain strong, he should hold serve and win his third major title.

It might have been a four-way tie had San Diego's Charley Hoffman been able to hang on to his stellar round.

This was the first day and the leaderboard was as unpredictable as the weather. I remember talking about the sheets of rain. The coach wanted to see how the ball was reacting in 55-degree weather compared to hot, humid Dallas, and the answer was Spieth was flying his irons about 25 yards shorter into the wind.

Koepka played once, with his manager, since winning the U.S. Open in mid-June.

"I couldn't have done much better today", he said. "It's hard to get into it".

And then he hit another one.




While wind was a factor during Spieth's opening round, stronger gusts are expected to pose a significant challenge on the second day of the tournament. "So I thought, OK, this is the game I've got".

Some might watch Spieth and see chance as an overriding factor in his success, especially so when he makes bunker shots like the one which ultimately sealed the most recent of his victories in CT.

"He was rolling it superbly that week, and I don't think it was that far behind today", Stenson said.

The performance of a fellow leader did catch his attention, however.

Spieth said talk of a big four was now defunct.... I've been on good ends of the draw, bad ends of the draw.

The homecoming for local kid Tommy Fleetwood didn't exactly go as planned.

"I was just trying to keep up with him", said Henrik Stenson, who shot 69.

"I don't know what's coming, but everybody says we are going to get wet tomorrow". While a handful of other favorites - Dustin Johnson (71), Rory McIlroy (71), Rickie Fowler (71), Jon Rahm (72) and Phil Mickelson (73) - failed to break par.

"Just a bit of lack of confidence over the last couple of weeks, and just letting that get in my head a little bit", McIlroy said. Later that same year, he won the TOUR Championship and the FedEx Cup to go with it. These are the four biggest tournaments of the year.

The 41-year-old had four birdies and one bogey as he recorded his lowest opening round in a major in 54 starts. "I'm just going to have to plot my way around, and it seemed to work".

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