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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Garcia takes charge at Carnoustie
Sergio Garcia
Garcia carded rounds of 83 and 89 at Carnoustie in 1999
-6 Sergio Garcia (Spa)
-4 Paul McGinley (Ire)
-3 Angel Cabrera (Arg), Boo Weekley (US), Rory McIlroy (NI), Markus Brier (Aut), Michael Campbell (NZ)
-2 Andres Romero (Arg), Padraig Harrington (Ire), Stewart Cink (US), KJ Choi (Kor), Tiger Woods (US), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa)

By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at Carnoustie

Sergio Garcia charged into the lead of the 136th Open Championship with a stunning first-round 65 at Carnoustie.

The Spaniard led Ireland's Paul McGinley by two shots on a damp and overcast day on Scotland's Angus coast.

McGinley was one clear of Northern Irish amateur Rory McIlroy, Argentina's US Open champion Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, Markus Brier and Boo Weekley.

Defending champion Tiger Woods carded a two-under 69 as he bids to win a third straight Open and 13th major in all.

"It's not about revenge," said Garcia, who carded 89 and 83 to miss the cut when the Open was last held at Carnoustie in 1999. "But it's definitely what the doctor ordered."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington was also two under, while England's Luke Donald, the highest Briton in the world rankings at nine, handed in a one-under 70.

I've had a great start but there's a long, long way to go

Paul McGinley

America's Phil Mickelson, the world number two, carded a level-par 71 but home favourite Colin Montgomerie, still seeking a maiden major title after five runner-up spots, shot a birdie-less two-over 73.

Eight years ago, only one player - Australian Rod Pampling - equalled par in the first round on a course dubbed the "beast" and "Car-nasty" because of thick rough, tight fairways and difficult winds.

On Thursday a fairer course set-up and softer conditions led to 38 players at level par or better, with an average score of 73.7 - compared to seven over in 1999.

But Woods, the world number one, admitted Carnoustie was still no pushover.

"It was very satisfying to shoot 69 in these conditions," he said. "It feels really good."

Teeing off at 0630 BST, the opening trio of Joe Durant, Oliver Wilson and Ben Bunny set out in persistent drizzle and chilly temperatures.

By the time Woods teed off with 1999 winner Paul Lawrie and England's Justin Rose at 0909 BST, the worst of the rain had passed, and the American edged ominously into a share of the lead at three under with South Korea's KJ Choi after an eagle three at the 6th.

But Woods traded three bogeys with two birdies on his way home as McGinley surged into the lead with four birdies in his first seven holes.


John Daly, the 1995 Open champion, briefly overtook McGinley but the American plunged back down the leaderboard almost immediately with a double-bogey on 12, a triple on 14 and three more bogeys to finish in 74.

The 40-year-old McGinley edged to six under at one point before bogeys at 15 and 16 pegged him back.

"I'm very pleased because my golf hasn't been great for most of this year," said McGinley. "I've had a great start but there's a long, long way to go. We're not even at the end of the front nine yet."

Afternoon starters Achi Sato and then Garcia joined McGinley at four under but, like Daly, the Japanese then slipped straight back.

Garcia inched to six under with three straight birdies from the 12th and remained clear after swapping a bogey for a birdie on 16 and 17.

The 18-year-old McIlroy was playing in his first major championship and admitted taking time to settle down.

"I was just trying to take in the atmosphere and enjoy myself," he said. "I was very nervous on the first few holes but then eased into it, took it one shot at a time and played pretty nicely."

But England's three-time champion Nick Faldo, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Wednesday, matched his worst-ever Open score of 79.

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19 Jul 07 |  Golf
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