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Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, America's Rocco Mediate and Australia's Robert Allenby share the clubhouse lead after day one of the Open.

The trio carded one-under-par 69s to finish one shot ahead of Australians Greg Norman and Adam Scott and unheralded American Bart Bryant.

Defending champion Padraig Harrington shook off concerns about his injured wrist to finish on four over.

And pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia carded a solid two-over 72.

LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (All times BST)

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By Ben Dirs

2106: Lord knows how dark it must be up at Birkdale now, but there are still players on the course. Anthony Wall parred the 17th and is one over going down the last. England's Jonathan Lomas (+3) is in the last group on the course, he's currently playing the 16th with Yoshinobu Tsukada (+3) of Japan and another Englishman Peter Appleyard (+4). And with that I'm off... see you all tomorrow...

2048: English veteran Peter Baker is five over with two to play, which is a pretty tasty round in the circumstances.

2040: English amateur Chris Wood is putting together a decent round, he's four over after 16 and right in the mix. Wakefield is in with a 71, the Newcastle-under-Lyme golfer is the top Englishman, two shots off the lead. London's Anthony Wall is still hacking through the gloom and he's also one under with two to play.

"Today's scores and conditions at the Open have reminded me why i like it so much. Any shot slightly off-line is punished, which is what pro golfers should have to contend with, not winning tournaments scoring 30 under on easy courses." El Banditos on 606

2028: No more pics now, but there are players still on the course and I'm still around for a bit of chat. England's Simon Wakefield has birdied the 17th to move to one over.

2008: Garcia's birdie putt at 18 doesn't break as much as he thought it would and there's plenty more chicken on that bone. Sean O'Hair finishes with a four for a five-over 75 before falling into the arms of his caddie. Imada finishes with four bogeys for a round of 77 and Garcia drops in his par putt for a very solid round of 72.

2007: Garcia comes up just short with his approach at the 18th, he's got a tricky putt to make birdie. Imada of Japan stiffs his approach at 18, he'll have a tricky little shot over a green-side bunker. Imada is having a serious adventure down the back nine - he is unable to make a proper stance at the 18th and flops his chip into the bunker. He recovers well, splashing to within two feet of the cup.

1954: Garcia pings his tee shot down the middle at 18. Former American Ryder Cup skipper Tom Lehman is four over after 16, that's a pretty decent effort from the veteran, winner in 1996.

1952: Garcia leaves his birdie putt right at 17 and stays on two over. Bart Bryant of America rolls in a birdie putt at 18 for a level-par round of 70, Sweden's Peter Hanson pars for a 71.

1950: No wonder it's taking five and a half hours to get round - Garcia wanders about for about five minutes on the 17th green before snaking a lengthy putt to within 10 feet of the hole. Good effort, but he may not make birdie. Iwata of Japan just misses with a long birdie putt at the par-three 14th, Imada drops back to six over with his third bogey in a row at 17.

1943: Jimenez slides his very makable birdie putt at the last just wide of the hole and he cards a 72. Fine round that, to be followed no doubt by a dirty great lah-di-dah and a drop of Rioja. Good lad.

1940: Jimenez with an absolute beauty at 18, he's stuck that within six feet of the cup. Imada biffs out from a fairway bunker at 17... straight into another one 50 yards or so away. Stephen Ames of Canada started with a double-bogey six but he got back on track and drained a monster on 18 to finish with a three-over 73. He flashes a dashing smile - if I had teeth like him, I'd never close my mouth.

1934: Garcia slaughtered that drive at 17, it ended up 315 yards away. He under-clubs with his approach though and will have a meaty birdie putt. Anthony Kim finishes with a round of 72, Immelman drains a four-footer for a 74. That dragged its feet a little but eventually ducked in via the back door.

The rough
1930: Iwata comes up just short with a lengthy birdie putt at 13 and stays one over. Immelman of South Africa leaves his birdie putt from just off the green a few feet short and he'll have a tester for par. Imada finds rough at 17 and finds sand with his recovery.

1927: Jimenez rolls in a par putt at 17 to stay two over going down the last. Lovely approach from Anthony Kim at 18, the 23-year-old American is two over. The first sighter of Masters champion Trevor Immelman, he's four over as he strolls towards the 18th green.

1925: Ross Fisher makes par at 16 - good putt that, a very missable 10-footer. Tom Lehman makes eight at the 15th to tumble to four over. A 71 for Sweden's Freddie Jacobson, he's only two off the lead. Liang of China finishes with two double bogeys for a 77.

Sunshine
1919: China's number one Wen Chong Liang is making a hash of the 18th and will likely drop back from six over. Garcia sheds his jacket and gives it some hammer on 17 - he's absolutrely marmalised that and it's ended up about 900 yards away, straight down the middle. And yes, that is a sun graphic I've just put in, we have some blue sky over Birkdale....

1915: Garcia just shaves the hole with his birdie attempt at 16 and taps in for par to remain on two over. Imada of Japan via Florida drops a shot at 16 to fall back to five over. Countryman Iwata, playing in his first Open, makes par at 12 to remain two shots off the lead on one over.

1905: Garcia drills his approach at 16 into the heart of the green. Australia's Robert Allenby has flown in under the radar and claimed a share of the lead with one under. He tore into the back nine - four birdies for a 32.

"It's no easy snack out there. It's difficult but I hit a lot of great shots and gave myself a lot of chances. It's a matter of hanging in there and trying to shoot as low as you can with the conditions given to us." Joint leader Robert Allenby of Australia

1900: Freddy Jacobson just misses with a huge, snaking eagle attempt at 17, the Swede will have a shortish putt to move to level par. Fine putt from Cink at the 18th, and he taps in for a 75 and a tie for 61st. Conditions far easier now for these late starters, but there's still a bit of a breeze to keep the honest. Havret of France drains a 10-footer for par at the last and a round of 71. That's a ropey old putt from Tim Clark, seemingly a complete misread, but he rattles in for a 76.

"As Greg Norman seems rejuvenated by his recent marriage to Chris Evert, I think it can only be good for British golf if Monty follows suit and gets it on with Sue Barker." Cen via text

1855: Birdie for Garcia at 15, that's his first of the day and he's now two over. The Spaniard raises his arms and flashes a toothy grin, it's been a grind out there today. Tim Clark hits his approach at 18 to within 20 feet and Stewart Cink gets a stroke of luck with his recovery from some fluffy stuff, his ball skipping over a green-side bunker and rolling to the heart of the green.

"The reception at 18 made the day much more special, and you don't get that anywhere else in the world. There's not going to be low scores out there. You have to be patient and I was happy to post a good score. I'm excited but I'm going to be low-key about it all and keep my expectations low." Former Open champion Greg Norman

1849: Fine clutch putt from Scott at the last and he's in with a level-par 70. Playing partner Zach Johnson makes a birdie for a round of 73. Bogey for Larrazabal, the French Open champion cards a 75. Jimenez makes the most of a sweet chip on 16, rolling in a short one for a par to stay two over.

1846: Tim "Does Your Husband Play Madam" Clark leaves his putt short at 17 and he remains seven over. Scott does pretty well with his recovery chip on 18, but he's got a nasty little putt for par. Garcia puts his pitch from 40 yards to within a dustbin lid on 15. The pre-tournament favourite is three over.

1845: Scott finds the middle of the fairway on the 18th but comes up short with his nine-iron approach. England's Anthony Wall gets caught out by the breeze, he comes up short at 11. Touch of class from France's Gregory Havret of France who drains a monster for an eagle at the 17th - he climbs to one over. Zach Johnson is more accurate with his approach at 18, finding the heart of the green.

1830: Former Masters champion Zach Johnson just fails to curl a putt into the side door on 17 - he makes par to remain on four over. Spain's Larrazabal just misses with his birdie putt and stays four over. Adam Scott drops out of the lead with a bogey, McDowell and Mediate the main men now.

"Those 'stars' in Milwaukee this week are scared and have horrible attitudes as the Open's wind and rain is a great test of your talents." Rednyella on 606

1827: The wheels fell off Robert Karlsson's round after a bright start - birdie at the first followed by six bogeys and he finishes with a 75. Austin is round in 76 blows, which doesn't sound great but is a pretty handy bit of work round Birkdale.

1825: Scott has a decent lie on the 17th, but he shanks his recovery into a fairway bunker. One false stroke and you're toast at Birkdale. Spain's Sergio Garcia lets rip at 14, his five iron finds the heart of the green. Norman dribbles his lengthy birdie putt by the hole at 18 and he's round in 70.

1820: Woody Austin finds sand with his approach at 18 - the American has one of the most eccentric swings in golf, he puts me in mind of a child's wind-up toy. Very solid parachute approach from Norman at the 18th - a birdie at the last would give him a share of the lead. The Australian icon gets a rapturous reception walking to the green, I'd wager the hairs will be up on the back of his neck.

1812: Furyk finishes with a par at the last for a round of 71 - he's just two shots off the lead. Joint leader Adam Scott has to wait 15 minutes before unleashing a wayward drive down the 17th. Nick Dougherty of England makes par at the last for a round of 75.

1809: Miguel Angel Jimenez is stinking out the par-three 14th - the Spaniard was two over, but he won't be for long. The Great White is taking chunks out of Birkdale - a four on 17 and he's level par going down the last. Ross Fisher with an accurate, snaking putt at 12, he'll stay on two over.

1805: Some old campaigners strutting their stuff - Tom Lehman is level after 10 while Greg Norman is one over after 16. And here's Jim Furyk with a solid approach at 18 - a poor start for the American, but he's on for a very good score.

1802: Appleyard makes a dog's dinner of his chip at the sixth and makes double bogey to drop back to one over. Graeme McDowell, winner of last week's Scottish Open, makes a biggun disappear at the last to claim a share of the clubhouse lead.

1756: Scott makes bogey at the 16th to drop back into the pack - the Aussie is joint leader on one under, alongside Peter Appleyard and clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate.

1755: That's a peach of a bunker escape from French Open champion Pablo Larrazabal at 16. The Spaniard is a classy operator. But Adam Scott is the man making waves, despite a dribbly missed birdie putt at the 16th. Furyk - on whom I have laid a substantial amount of money - pars the 17th to stay two over.

1750: Scott keeps slip-sliding away, that's another coruscating approach at 16, right to the heart of the green.

"It was a fun, insane day. The guys this morning had the worst of it but it was much easier without the rain. I'm enjoying it because you don't get to do this too often. I made everything today and who knows, I might hit it even better tomorrow..." Clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate

1746: Hurrah! We're back up and running. Kiss my face. I have spent the last two hours mincing about talking rubbish for the benefit of no-one. Now you're back with us, I can reveal that Australia's Adam Scott is up ahead on two under while Rocco Mediate of America has the clubhouse lead on one under.

1741: A rare sighting of 1998 champion Mark O'Meara, he's chugging along nicely and finishes with a par on the 18th for a round of 74.

1739: It's raining again at Birkdale as Garcia comes within a whisker of chipping in at 11. Gossamer from the Spaniard, he taps in for a working man's par. Peter Appleyard of England makes par at the fifth to stay one shot off the lead at one under.

1732: Scott has the strength of 10 Irish navvies at the moment. Having bombed his tee shot straight down the middle on 15 and overcooked his approach, he then puts too much on his chip, rolling 20 feet past. Rocco Mediate sinks a lengthy putt at the last to claim the clubhouse lead on one under. Decent recovery from Garcia at 11, former US Open champion Angel Cabrera finishes on seven over. Fine save from Norman at 16, draining a 30-foot putt to remain on one over. And that's a peach of a putt from Scott at 15 - the Aussie grabs the outright lead on two under.

1730: Fisher makes his par putt at the 10th disappear, he remains on one over. Norman splashes out at 16, he'll have a 10-footer for par. Garcia in some schtuck on 11, he'll have to gouge an approach shot out of some scrub to the left of the fairway.

1725: Adam Scott launches a beast of a tee shot into the wind at the par-five 15th. Norman finds the bunker to the front right of the 16th. Garcia sprays his tee shot at the 11th, while Adam Scott overcooks his approach at the 15th, but he'll have three more shots for par.

1722: Only the hardy remain at Birkdale now as Tsukada of Japan flops in for birdie at the fourth. Fisher's tee shot at 10 comes up short, the Englishman will have to shovel some coal to make par.

1717: Norman soldiering on, an adventurous par at the par-five 15th to remain one over. England's Peter Appleyard joins Adam Scott on one under with a birdie at the third. Garcia yanks his par putt at the 10th to fall back to three over. Rocco Mediate chips in for a birdie at the 17th, he's back to even par.

"It's great to be back. The Open has a special place in my heart and I rate my 73 pretty highly given the difficulty of the course. I almost let it slip away in the middle but it was a good day at the office. The greens are extremely slippery and the wind is affecting the ball on the breaks and it all adds to the difficulty." France's Jean van de Velde

1712: Norman flops a chip short to within a few feet of the 15th pin. Norman recently shacked up with Chris Evert in the Bahamas. Bet that was a low-key do. Crackerjack pitch from Adam Scott at 14 - straightforward par putt and he's yet to drop a shot.

1710: Scott, now the outright leader on one under, comes up short with his tee shot at the par-three 14th. Not sure why I'm writing this as we're not updating and no-one's reading. Fisher pars the ninth to remain on one over.

1706: Pearling bunker shot from Scott at 13 and he makes his par putt. The Aussie keeping things together. Garcia makes his tee shot sing at the 10th before getting involved with an energy bar. The Spaniard looking jaunty, he has the look of an Open champion.

1700: Garcia tugs his birdie putt just left of the hole on the ninth - he's out in two over, right in the mix.

1655: Norman rolling back the years at Birkdale, he drains his par putt on the 14th to stay one over. Ross Fisher of England just shaves the hole with his birdie putt at eight.

Ken Brown
"Keep your eye on Ross Fisher- he's a classy player and a super striker of the ball." Ken Brown, BBC golf pundit

1650: Greg Norman just misses with his birdie putt on 14 and Frenchman Jean van de Velde pulls out a plum at the 17th - he's got a tiddler for birdie and three over par.

1644: Norman makes bogey at 13 to fall back to one over. Scott pars the 12th to keep a share of the lead. Sergio marmalises a three iron straight down the middle on nine. Dreamy shot that. Playing partner Sean O'Hair pulls out a three wood and finds scrub to the right of the fairway.

1641: Tim Clark of South Africa was out in 36 but he's just had an eight at the 10th to slip back to six over. Nasty. Mediate, the US Open nearly man, makes a clutch par putt at the 16th to remain one over. Germany's Alex Cejka, now a regular on the American tour, birdies the third to join the leaders on one under.

1638: That's not clever from Scott, his tee shot on 12 skipping through the green. Wall drags his par putt wide on the fourth and falls back to level par. Four players atop the leaderboard now - Wall, Scott, McGuigan and Hanson.

1635: Ken Brown fannying about in a bunker on the telly - the old boy can still play a bit. And here's Ross Fisher doing it for real, escaping to within 10 feet on the seventh. Fine approach by Garcia on the ninth, he's got a 15-footer for birdie.

1630: I've had a little each-way punt on Jim Furyk, and he's three over after 13 - slap bang in the mix. Ross Fisher pulls his tee shot at seven into the bunker to the front left of the green. Norman's in some strife, he's got a choker of a lie on 13, his ball sitting just above a fairway bunker, right on the ridge. He recovers well, his ball ending up in the middle of the fairway.

1627: Unheralded Scot Douglas McGuigan drains a whopper at the first to join Scott and Wall at the top of the leaderboard.

1625: Ross Fisher makes par at the sixth - the hardest hole on the course, ony two birdies on it so far. World number three Adam Scott putts from off the green to within two feet - par at 11 and he retains the lead.

1621: Smashing approach from Anthony Wall at the third - the Englishman is one under after two and he's got a decent chance of grabbing the outright lead. Karlsson yanks his par putt left at 12, he falls back to two over. Norman makes no mistakes, draining a six-footer to remain level. Australia's Stuart Appleby squirts his putt right at the sixth to fall to one over. Wall misses his birdie putt on three and stays one under.

1615: Garcia is unable to pull a rabbit out of the hat at six, he taps in for two over overall. The BBC cameraman has a bit of a bird watch as a kestrel wrestles with a strong cross-course breeze. Norman got a slice of luck on the 12th, his ball finding flat ground to the left of the green. And that's a peach of a chip and he'll have a six-footer for par. Karlsson plays a belter from the bunker and he'll have a 15-footer for par.

1609: Garcia makes a choppy swing at the sixth, his ball zipping 20 feet past the hole and into some green-side scrub. Norman constructing a little peach of a round, but that's a horrific tee shot on the par-three 12th, a fan could welll be wearing that all over his - or her - mooey. Sweden's Karlsson doesn't do much better, dumping his tee shot in a right-hand bunker.

1604: Lovely curling effort from Norman at 11, just missing a couple of feet to the right. England's Ross Fisher makes par at the fifth to remain level. Garcia yanks his approach at six front and left - playing brutal that hole, 4.96 the average.

1600: Scott is a club short with his approach at 10. We're having a spot of trouble with the updates at the moment, but the technical bods are on it. There's that familiar choppy swing of Greg Norman, solid approach at 11 - he's level par.

1557: Garcia makes par at five - not six as I have been saying - and Anthony Wall of England birdies the first to join Goosen and Weir atop the leaderboard.

1550: Anthony Kim makes steady progress, he taps in for par at the seventh to remain level par overall. Garcia's birdie putt at five dribbles left of the hole. The man sitting opposite me hasn't spoken since I insulted his new shoes at approximately 1330 BST. Forgive me for my ignorance, but are moccasins 'in' this season?

1548: Miguel-Angel Jimenez makes par at the sixth to stay one over. Fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia plays a mediocre approach to the fifth green before emitting a throaty growl. Not happy with that.

1545: Austin yanks his bogey putt three feet past on the 10th and that's a double-bogey six. Karlsson makes bogey to fall back to two over. Blinding front nine from Australia's Adam Scott, the only man to turn under par.

1541: Woody Austin of America pushes a lengthy putt at 10 15 feet past the hole. Garcia sends a coruscating drive straight down the middle of the fifth.

1537: Immaculate bunker escape from America's Sean O'Hair at four, his ball ending up a foot from the hole. Garcia follows and very nearly cannons O'Hair's ball into the hole. Two pars, both remain one over.

"I thought ball-by-ball cricket was boring, but ball-by-ball golf! God help us..." Diane Weatherup via text

"I'll tell you what sort of mood Monty's in Ben - chipper. That's what. He ended his little session in front of the assembled hacks with the line: 'The course was very fair today. Hard but fair. Unfortunately he [God, presumably] is in charge. And he messed up today.' Monty was very pleased with that and left us beaming. I'm guessing he was talking about the weather. He also said: 'If you had offered me 73 on the first tee I would have turned around and headed straight back to the clubhouse. It was miserable out there. I hit five shots on the range beforehand and that was five too many.'" BBC Sport's Rob Hodgett's at Royal Birkdale

1531: Rickety old tee shot from Garcia at the par-three fourth, he's found a bunker protecting the front right of the green.

1528: World number three Adam Scott of Australia makes par at eight top remain on one under. French Open champion Pablo Larrazaba knocks in a clutch putt to stay one over.

1524: Robert Karlsson of Sweden is out in 35, while playing partner Woody Austin is two over at the turn. And here's 2001 champion David Duval - he's made one cut on tour all season, but he's put a decent round together today, two over par.

1521: Stephen Ames pushes his 20 foot birdie putt just wide at the fifth - the Canadian remains one over. Greg Norman sinks a six-footer at nine, he's on level par.

By Sam Lyon

1516: Right, with Adam Scott and Peter Hanson leading the way on one under and conditions significantly better this afternoon than they were for the early starters, I will hand you back to Ben Dirs for the remainder of the day's play. Cheers for all your chat 'n' that so far today - I'll see you all again bright and breezy tomorrow morning. Love it.

1514: A little mention for poor Jamie Howarth - the Englishman is limping along at 12 over after 13 holes, just two shots off last place with five to go. Someone fetch that man a stiff drink.

1512: 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson sinks a gorgeous putt at the seventh to move back into the pack at one over, while Phil Mickelson regards his round of 79 as "not out of by any means". He adds: "I have to shoot something around par tomorrow and I'll be OK I think, I'm not despondent or anything."

Maureen Madill
"Robert Karlsson has my backing this weekend, and while that is usually a guaranteed kiss of death, he's shown early in his round here that he has all the tools and belief needed to win this come Sunday."
Maureen Madill on BBC Two

1502: Mike Weir joins Retief Goosen in the clubhouse on one over with a two-putt at the last.

1500: Monty has to settle for a 73 as his birdie attempt at the last falls short - he'll be happy enough with that, I reckon. There again, who knows what mood Monty's in? He might bite Hazel Irvine's head off for... hold on, not our Hazel, no way. Anyway, he's nowhere near as rubbish Mick blooming Hucknall - the self-styled womaniser of the 80s/90s. Seriously, who went near him? Who? Why?!

"Re: 1412 - speaking of Mick Hucknall, he was in the Touch of India Curry House in Eindhoven, The Netherlands last week Friday. My mum's friend who was there with us, wouldn't leave until she got to shake his hand. Of course it never happened and we had to drag her out. On the other hand., mighty good curries you get at the Touch of India!"
steviehouse on 606
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1456: Adam Scott drifts in a 12-footer at the sixth to take over as the leader on one under, but I'll stick my life savings - all 27.65 of 'em - on that changing by a few times before the end of the day.

"I feel I was happy off the tee and in my approach all day, but I really never got to grips with the greens all day. That's something I'll work on but I'm fairly happy with where I am."
Lee Westwood on BBC Two

1451: Sergio Garcia gets off to the rather dubious start of a bogey at the first, but cracks another decent iron off the tee at the second to hopefully get himself back on track. Meanwhile, Coling Montgomerie tip-toes over the right-hand side bunker at the last with a drive of almost 290 yards, but he'll have to play his second from the light rough as he looks to complete a three-over round.

1447: "Get in the hole!" And it does - Mike Weir holing the first eagle of the day at 17 to move to one over with one to play. Top work from the Canadian, that. I was sorely tempted to up the guage on 'flag fury' there by using the US 'up' arrow, but I'll refrain.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1439: Two birdies in the final four holes for Ian Poulter and he's in the clubhouse two over with a 72. Excellent stuff from the Englishman, he turned his round around and ensured he's bang in the mix in this thing.

"People need to stop making such a fuss of the weather. This is Britain. We never complain when our players play in the States and the sun is shining. Weather is only one of many factors that contribute to a bad round of golf, not the only one..."
Jon via text

1436: A bit of a catch-up then... Ian Poulter, David Duval and Nick Dougherty are two over through 17, 15 and six respectively, Colin Montgomerie is three over through 16, compatriot Paul Lawrie the same through eight, England's Phillip Archer is five over through 12... and Swede Henrik Stenson is in the clubhouse on six over. Apologies if I missed your favourite, but don't forget you can keep an eye on the leaders on the link (for web users) below.
Open leaderboard

1431: "At the first tee... Sergio Garcia!". Ivor Robson's introduction bring a light cheer from the cold and wet group at the first at Birkdale and the Spaniard responds by tonking an iron straight down the middle. By the way, do we reckon Ivor Robson talks like that all the time? "On the table... my dinner!". "On her way to the shops... my wife!"

1430: "Much excitement at the BBC studio as local Southport resident and BBC legend Mark Lawrenson arrives to say hello at the same time as a police sniffer dog on the look out for bombs. There was slight concern as young spaniel Charlie went ballistic at the contents of our bin, until the sinister package turned out to be a half-eaten salmon en croute from BBC catering. No wonder he went wild."
BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale

US up
1426: Rocco 'The Man who forced Tiger Woods into surgery' Mediate rolls home a beauty to move to two-over. His playing partner Angel Cabrera pulls one out of the bag to get away with a bogey at the same hole.

1424: Lee Westwood slips his shot by the right-hand side of the hole by a whisker to just miss out on a birdie and finish with a five-over 75. That means he played the last 15 holes in one over, which is remarkable given the conditions. KJ Choi does the same and he has to settle for a 72. Still, what Scott Strange wouldn't give for a 72 hey?!

1419: KJ Choi leaves himself a seven/eight-footer for a birdie at 18 and a 71, while Englishman Lee Westwood drills to only slightly further away as he looks for a 73. I don't want to get any of you excited - especially Garcia fans - but, dare I say it, it's looking a lot brighter now with clear skies in the distance. An afternoon tee-time might prove invaluable today. Especially if you were out on the lash in Ormskirk last night. That's the traditional warm-up for a round of golf right? A night on the black stuff?

"Is Monty still three over with the 17th to come? Still want him to do well although he was very grumpy at Loch Lomond on Friday."
StandfreeFM on 606
(He is three over mate, through 15, but 'very grumpy'? That's an understatement if you ask me. I was highly unimpressed... not that he'd care a jot what I think I'm sure - SL)
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1413: Moments after Graeme McDowell holes a beauty at six to get away with a bogey, KJ Choi kerplunks a delicious tee shot straight down the middle at 18 to keep his hopes of a birdie - and therefore a round of 71 - alive. Robert Karlsson, meanwhile, misses a long putt at the fifth that would have put him two under, but he dribbles in at the second attempt to stay clear at the top of the leaderboard.

1412: "I feel like crying, I've actually seen a bit of blue sky. I want to get out the factor 50. The rain has stopped just in time for Sergio Garcia to open his campaign.

"I have been for a walk to the range and seen Spain's Mick Hucknall, who also goes by the name of Miguel Angel Jimenez, hitting the ball very sweetly thank you very much. He spanked a few nice low irons which will be handy out there because despite the lack of rain at the moment, it is still very blustery."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

It's bad news for a Briton at the Open
1409: Lee Westwood... misses his birdie chance from four feet at 17 and that's a right kick in the funkies for the Englishman. He stays at five-over with the tricky par-four 18th to come.

1408: Rocco Mediate - not mentioned him much today yet have we? - holes out well at seven to stay at three over. Cabrera, meanwhile, just about gets away with a bogey at seven and that's two dropped shots in two holes for him.

1405: Argentine Angel Cabrera is having a 'mare of it over on seven, chipping over the green and into the bunker before clipping back short of the pin by eight-nine feet. Lee Westwood, meanwhile, gives himself a chance of a birdie at 17 with a long putt to within a few feet.

European Up
1359: France's Jean van de Velde - everyone's favourite loser at the Open - holes a tricky one to stay level par through eight (he doesn't look the same with his trousers rolled down, though, to be fair). Robert Karlsson still leads by a shot through four.

The bookies' favourite Sergio Garcia takes to the practice round a mere 30 minutes before the start of his round - perhaps he was reliving Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon victory or Spain's Euro 2008 win as inspiration before swinging around in the cold and wet?

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1355: Uncelebrated pair Paul Wring and Gary Boyd are pulling up a few trees for England at the moment, the duo lying one over through six and seven respectively - jubbly.

Nick Dougherty - who was 175-1 before the tournament started - is also one over through four, meanwhile, while Graeme McDowell is level par through five. My mate's got a fair old wedge on McDowell by the way, which ordinarily would mean he has as much chance of winning this as I have, but...

1353: Englishman Ross Fisher is looking relaxed on the practice range on BBC Two - he'll tee off at 1442 BST and I reckon he might just get his hooks into this championship after his impressive win recently at the European Open. The bait's there for sure, anyway. Anyone else backing him to reel it in? Or will he just end up a sinker? I'll stop now.

1348: A top save with the putter from Lee Westwood and he's five over going into the final two holes. Greg Norman, meanwhile, rolls back the years with a monster birdie putt at the third to go back to level par. The Shark - married to Chris Evert of course - plays more tennis than golf these days apparently. Reckon he'd give Chris Eaton a run for his money?

1344: "Following up from Mark's frankly woeful celebrity sightings (see 1222) - whilst in Loch Lomond last week we caught Phil Mickelson red handed ordering a McFlurry from the Balloch branch of McDonalds.

"Fair enough, you may say, but when you consider it was 1030pm and he had just come straight from a swanky four course sponsors' dinner it beggars belief. Actually more to the point, come on Phil - when in Rome, what's wrong with a deep fried Mars bar?"
BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale

1342: "I'm obviously happy to have taken the decision to play and I felt I battled well. At least I did through the first 16 holes, after that it was a bit of a poor finish. I've got a day to rest now and hopefully my wrist will feel better again tomorrow.

"I've not played my way out of the tournament and so there is plenty to play for. I got more comfortable as the round went on so I'll be looking to push on again tomorrow."
Padraig Harrington on BBC Two

1338: Like the Stone Roses - I am the Resurrection. For the next hour or so anyway, while Dirsy prepares himself for a stint that'll take you through the rest of the day's play this evening. Did I miss much?

By Ben Dirs

1332: Peach of an approach from Sweden's Niclas Fasth at the fifth. He's one over. Cabrera unleashes some whupass at six, as Monty's lengthy birdie putt at 14 misses just right. That's a tap in for par and he's three over.

1327: Karlsson holes a six-footer for par at the second. Played in 12 Opens Karlsson and missed the cut nine times. Former US Open champion Michael Campbell goes from the fire into the frying pan at 5, slashing out of the rough and into a green-side bunker. Els playing like a drain, his approach at 17 short and right. Here's Retief...

1321: Westwood's chip at 15 grips and fizzes away from the hole and Monty's birdie attempt at 13 misses just left. The Scotsman is three over. Westwood dribbles his birdie putt at 15 short and wide and he's now five over. Sweden's Robert Karlsson has the outright lead after a birdie at the first.

1315: Monty has a stroke of luck with his approach at 13, his shot skipping over the bunker to the front left. Goosen's long par putt at 18 falls a few feet short but he taps in for a 71 and the clubhouse lead. If you chopped Goosen in half, he would have the word 'mongrel' running through him. Bogey for defending champion Harrington and that's a round of 74 - right in the mix. America's Justin Leonard yanks his par putt left and finishes with a 77.

1305: Westwood wallops a pearler of a drive down the 14th, he's four over. Gossamer from Cabrera at four, a silky little chip to within 20 feet. Tom Watson chatting to Hazel Irvine, he's playing his fifth Open at Birkdale, and he won there in '83. "It's a tough golf course, but I enjoy the challenge," says the five-time champion. I saw Hancock last night. Will Smith wasn't bad as Hancock, but Charlize Theron's Hattie Jacques was ruddy terrible.

1305: Ropey old tee shot from Goosen at 18 and Monty plops in a birdie putt at 12 to move to three over. Plenty of cheers, he remains a folk hero to many.

1302: Retief Goosen makes a birdie at 17 to claim a share of the lead. Some player Goosen, a two-time US Open champion with serious mettle. Defending champion Harrington bogeys to fall back to three over. Given the conditions, he's still bang in it.

1258: Els misses a long par putt at the 15th to drop back to seven over. The South African looks like he's returned to his car and found someone has sprayed a phallus on it.

1255: Ernie Els plays a distinctly average approach at the 15th, and world number two Phil Mickelson taps in on the 11th - he's eight over. It's absoutely brutal out there folks.

1250: Yo yo yo yo. England's Justin Rose has just come in on four over which, given the filthy conditions, looks like a pretty decent score.

By Sam Lyon

1246: Right, as I slope off to chance my arm at the BBC restaurant, Mr Benjamin Dirs will talk you through the action for a spell. Be gentle with him, now.

Ken Brown
"A little update - the hardest hole on the course right now is undoubtedly the sixth, while the easiest - statistically - is the 17th."
Ken Brown on BBC Two

1237: A quick mention of Heath Slocum - the man who has hokey-cokey'd his way into this championship - he currently lies in a tie for fifth at one over through nine. What a story it'd be if he won huh? Impressive young German Martin Kaymer, meanwhile, has slipped back to four over through 13, with England's Paul Casey and Simon Khan both on six over. Oh, and Vijay Singh is 11 over through 14 - ouch.

"Great to hear of celebs in the area, being local myself - well worth going out for a pint in Ormskirk to bump into CZJ! By the way, don't want to pour water on the excitement of seeing Gary Gillespie but he lives in Southport so can be seen in restaurants there all year!"
Martyn from Burscough (near Ormskirk) via text

1230: A slight - and rare - error from Retief Goosen as the South African bogeys the par five 15th to fall back to level par. He sits there alongside Paul Waring, Kevin Stadler and Angel Cabrera - all of whom are through the first.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1229: Justin Rose holes out from five feet at the 17th to save par at the 17th and he stays at four over - I wonder if, upon reflection, that might actually prove a half decent score at the end of the day you know.

Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington remain on two over, meanwhile, and I should mention amateur Thomas Sherreard who is three over through seven.

"Sam... Fairlop Waters. Has that course improved at all? Greens used to be rubbish. Much prefer Hainault down the road."
Chris, Chingford via text
(You're right to mate, unless you like digging through mud, tall grass and geese excrement... on the fairway - SL)

1222: "Just been speaking to a journalist from a local newspaper and she tells me that there has been a rumour of a sighting of Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones in Ormskirk. Now, I know it is only wild gossip, but as the highlight of celeb spotting this week has been snooker legend Willie Thorne on the putting green and former Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie in a Southport restaurant, Rob and I will take anything. (Sorry Willie and Gary, we love you really)."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

US up
1219: Beautiful attempt from Padraig Harrington at the 15th as he drifts a birdie attempt from 30 feet to within inches of the hole. He stays at two over and he allows himself a wry smile - his wrist really doesn't appear to be playing him up at all out there.

"Craig Parry has the cheek to complain about only hitting his three wood 180 yards into a gale? (See below) I'd give my back teeth for that distance!"
Dan Andrews via text
(Ah yes Dan, but would you give your 'high' teeth?! (See below) SL)

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1211: Lee Westwood looks like he is starting to turn things around with a gorgeous approach on the 11th, while compatriot Phillip Archer recovers from a double bogey at the fourth with a birdie at the fifth.

"Loving the fact that a text which starts "my name is Mrs Vince F Jones..." has been sent from Anon! (See below) Top work Sam."
Ali, London via text
(You know me Ali, I don't like to get involved in domestic squabbles... SL)

1203: This from Craig Parry, the first man out this morning: "It was bl***y miserable out there. It was an honour to hit the first tee shot but after that it was really tough.

"It's the worst opening day I can remember, though I can remember worse days. The golf course is a lot harder than any other Open we've played. Sixteen holes were into the wind and my three-wood was going about 180 yards.

"But you've got to go out there and do your best. All the guys that play here, they do their best to have a never-say-die attitude. You've got to grin and bear it."

Parry, who comes from Sunshine, Victoria, added: "I was home a couple of weeks ago and were swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter. I don't know about the guys that come over and live here in summer because it's brutal out there."
Rob Hodgetts, BBC Sport at Royal Birkdale

1202: Retief Goosen grabs the outright lead with a monster putt at the 14th to go one under and the South African is really putting together a royal round at Birkdale. Colin Montgomerie, meanwhile, holes out well at the eighth to stay two over.

1200: Huzzah! Some justice for Lee Westwood as he holes a birdie at 10, while Padraig Harrington chips to within a couple of feet at the 14th. KJ Choi, meanwhile pulls a three-footer to drop a shot at the 10th.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1156: Ian Poulter gives himself a great chance of a birdie at 10 with a tee shot to within a few feet - if he could have holed out a little better today, he'd be even better placed than two for the day... and the Englishman holes out well moments later to move back to one over. Jubbly.

US down
1151: By the way, a word on Vijay Singh - the Fijian has just holed his seventh consecutive bogey to lie 10 over after 11. I think it's fair to say he is not enjoying this Open - Tiger-less or not. Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, bogeys the eighth to drop to seven over.

"My name is Mrs Vince F Jones. We only have three children!! (see below)"
Anon via text

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1147: Shintaro Kai's stay at the top is ended as he bogeys the fourth, where he joins Goosen, Choi - and England's Phillip Archer, who birdies the third to go level.

"Vince (see below) - maybe it was because of your fast 2-ball, rather than their slow 4-ball?"
Danny, St Albans via text

It's bad news for a Briton at the Open
1143: Shame for Monty at the seventh as he leaves a putt short to fall to two over. Paul Casey meanwhile is in a spot of bother as he is forced to take a drop at the eighth.

1138: KJ Choi misses the chance to join Kai at the top of the leaderboard as he leaves his putt at the ninth short. The Korean used to weightlift and, apparently, could lift 350lbs above his head at the age of 13. I would imagine he didn't get bullied in the playground. Even less so when he started wielding a golf club I'd wager.

Mark James
"The caddies will really be earning their corn today, I tell you. Keeping the clubs dry, carrying around fresh towels, and, more importantly, carrying the umbrella. I tell you, my arms felt like they were going to fall off when I had to carry my own 'brella round the course. Although that might have something to do with my 'Ken Brown' arms..."
Mark James on BBC Two

"Hi, my name is Vince F Jones and I conceived my fourth child on a golf course because of a slow 4-ball in front of us."
Vince via text

1133: Splendid hole-out from Retief Goosen at the 12th and he jumps back up to level par in the pack behind surprise early leader Shintaro Kai, who is one under through three.

BBC Sport mole
1131: I've got a truly sensational spot here in the BBC studio - from my position I look straight down the 18th fairway towards the Birkdale clubhouse. It really makes you appreciate how talented golfers are.

"I couldn't even dream of getting the ball on the green in these conditions. After my performances at some courses close to Loch Lomond at the Scottish Open last week, letting me loose with a low iron from here could pretty much guarantee fatalities in the grandstand and shattered glass in the clubhouse."
BBC Sport' Mole at Royal Birkdale

1128: Justin Rose is not the only man out there sporting the 'two-hat' trend, Justin Leonard and a few others are also digging the look. It reminds me of a friend of mine at university who used to wear three (no less) polo shirts in order to gain the 'triple collar' look that he said guaranteed him attention from the girls. Much like Rose et al, he didn't half look a doughnut...

1125: Retief Goosen, ignoring the fact that the rain is getting heavy again and still sporting short sleeves, crashes his tee shot at the 12th into the flag and off the green - unfortunate, that. Padraig Harrington, though, holds his tee shot on the second bounce and he will have an eight-footer for birdie. At the sixth, Colin Montgomerie lays up to within a couple of feet of the hole and he's looking in good shape alongside Canadian Mike Weir, who is level par as it stands.

"It's a classic case of the old cliche "you can't win it today, but you can certainly lose it"!!"
goldwolf on 606
Join the debate

1117: No sooner do I big him up than he falls away, Harrington missing a tricky putt at the 11th to bogey and drop to two over.

1114: One over is the place to be at the moment, with no fewer than 15 players sitting pretty on one dropped shot. The group includes Harrington, Goosen, Kaymer, Els, Poulter and Montgomerie - and I suspect they will all be delighted with that so far. At the other end of the scale, Simon Dyson completes his round of 82 - 12 over par after the first round. Ouch.

1111: Mickelson has indeed lost his ball and they have to go back to his originaly position to play a new one. The group behind are waved through - remniscent of me and my mates having to wave through a group every, erm, three or four holes over Fairlop Waters - and Paul Casey is spitting his dummy out. The Englishman will play his third shot regardless, while Micky takes the long and lonely walk back down the course. They will not, it seems, be sharing a bacon butty on the ninth, bless 'em.

1108: The hunt is on for Phil Mickelson, the American desperately trying to find his ball at the sixth - looks like he's going to have to drop a shot there, especially with one spectator walking away whistling with what looks remarkably like a golf-ball shape bump in his pocket. The cunning swine.

1104: KJ Choi stays in the pack on level par with a neat putt from 10 feet on the seventh, while Japan's Sintaro Kai holds on to his lead at one under with a six-footer on the second.

It's bad news for a Briton at the Open
Elsewhere, Ian Poulter falls back to one over after six, Colin Montgomerie bogeys the fifth to join him, and Justin Rose misses a birdie chance at 11 to stay four over. Not a great couple of minutes for the Brits.

"I'm really suprised at how well Harrington is playing. I read that he quit after playing only two shots in his practice round so to be 1 off the lead after 10, and looking so comfortable, is great news. Come on Paddy."
MifsudMyHero on 606

1059: Harrington has to step away from a putt as the wind plays havoc with his stance, but he returns to sink a beautiful par at the 10th to stay one over.

It's bad news for a Briton at the Open
It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1057: A cracking approach to the seventh from Lee Westwood finds the green - the Englishman must be wondering how he is five over after some of the shots he's pulled off today - but Ian Poulter lays up short from a good position on the sixth to leave himself a tricky long one for par.

1053: A genuine 50-50 split on 606 and via text it would seem over Sandy Lyle's withdrawal. The pro's point out he's a two-time major champion whose getting on a bit and carrying an injury, the cons claiming he's taken up a worthy competitor's place before pulling out in a sulk because he doesn't like it wet. Get involved folks...
Join the debate

"Poulter plays better in normal clothes - fact! Just goes to show he should put away the silly colourful items and concentrate on his golf."
Thomas, Fife via text

"Oh come on, lets get a Scottish flag going for Monty! Then you can stop, honest..."
From David via text
(Behave David, behave - SL)

1049: Sensational recovery from Westwood! The Englishman places his ball on the edge of the sixth green, only for him to walk away and not notice his ball roll back off the green and into the rough. No matter, though, as he chips straight in from 30-ish feet to save bogey.

1048: Oh - we have an outright leader of the Open again - Japan's Shintaro Kai birdies the first to top the leaderboard.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
It's bad news for a Briton at the Open
1044: Ian Poulter - not many of you were tipping him at the start I must say - birdies the fifth to join Monty et al at the top of the leaderboard on level par. Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, swipes a beauty of a long putt at the fifth but the birdie chance goes by and he stays on three over. Paul Casey, meanwhile, double bogeys the same hole and he's down to three over.

1041: Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer hole out on the sixth to stay one over in a group of, hold on, 13. Oooh... dunna nanna dunna nanna (that was supposed to be a, like, spooky music thing).

"'Why is Rose wearing two hats?' (see below). In case he gets a hole in one?! Sorry!!!!"
Oh_Danny_Boy on 606
Join the debate

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1038: Back on the course and away from 'flag fury', Colin Montgomerie sinks a six-footer to go back level par after four - gwan son, you lead the Open. And a perfick opportunity to break out the Brit 'up arrow'. Joy unconfined.

1034: Right, listen up flag fans. Under the sheer weight of argument for Brit arrows as opposed to European ones - I mean, really, does it matter?! - we've added said flags to our list of graphics. From now on a Brit doing well or poorly gets his own flag - what joy - while 'other' Europeans get the Euro flag and Americans get the US flags.

So untwist those knickers please folks and, no, we won't be coming up with Japanese, South African flags etc... to quote the great Sandy Lyle - "enough is enough".

1024: Harry's now just one shot off the lead as KJ Choi pays for a wayward second shot at the fifth with a bogey to slip back to level par.

European Up
1024: Padraig Harrington is battling brilliantly out there - the Irishman holing a curler at the ninth to move back up to one over, two off the lead.

"Sandy Lyle has let himself and the tournament down badly - walking off because you're playing badly is the act of a petulant teenager not a pro golfer."
ShugMcaffarty on 606
Join the debate

1021: Leader KJ Choi makes his first mistake of the day as it appears as if he goes out of bounds on the fifth. Justin Rose, meanwhile, takes a five at the ninth to slip to four over, as Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer - in the pack on par at the moment - struggle to get too near the pin with their third shots at the par-four sixth. Horrific hole today, that one.

Paul Eales
"It's hard to believe Lee Westwood is over par - let alone four over - he really hasn't missed a shot today. It's been tough luck on him so far, it really has."
Paul Eales on BBC Two

1016: "Joy for Heath Slocum (I really must try and stop thinking about Are You Being Served? every time I write his name), he is in the Open!

"Also, I've just read the Met Office weather forecast for the rest of the day - and it does look as if it will clear up later on. Here's the official wording: '1200-1600: cloudy with rain at times, 1600-2000: cloudy with some dry and bright spells'. So there we are then."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale
BBC Weather

"It's definitely 'off your own bat' (see below). Anybody who says otherwise should be forced to repeat the word 'espresso' (as opposed to the wholly wrong EXpresso) a million times."
Richard, Aberdeen via text

Ken Brown
I don't think I've ever seen nicer greens surfaces on a links course. They are running so smooth and true it's beautiful. Of course, the same can't quite be said of the fairways and rough in this weather."
Ken Brown on BBC Two

1007: KJ Choi sinks a beauty at the fourth to go one under par - a shot almost as impressive as that holed by Heath Slocum, who has been dragged away from his hot chocolate and off the bench as Toru Taniguchi's replacement, the Japanese golfer has a back injury, to sink a long 'un at the first to also hold par.

BBC Sport mole
1005: Shut it Lyon (see 0925). A dog-eared copy of the Southport Visiter (sic) and The Sun are copious notes. As for providing 'news' that's a fair cop, a faintly ridiculous claim. I apologise."
BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale

"I got off to a pretty miserable start and I hit a couple of shots on the third and fourth hole that rattled and numbed my fingers so I thought it would do more harm than good to continue. I've played in arguably worse conditions than this, but the course is so demanding that when you get out of position you're finished - enough is enough."
Sandy Lyle throws in the towel on BBC Two

1000: Apparently our production system is going down for 'repairs' now so I'm offline for a short break. Keep monitoring the TV coverage, leaderboard and 606 thread though - I'll want a full run-down when I return.

European Up
European Down
0959: Europeans currently occupy five of the top of the eight places at the top of the leaderboard so a welcome return for the 'up arrow' I reckon. The news is not quite as good for Oliver Wilson and Lee Westwood, who are dropping down the leaderboard, though they are in good company - Vijay Singh, Ben Curtis and Mark Calcavecchia are also struggling.

European Down
0954: Worse news for Sandy Lyle fans - apparently he's walked off the course. It could be a toilet break, it could be for a small sup of the good stuff, or it could be cos he's had enough of being soaked through to the smalls by the continuing rain at Royal Birkdale. I'll keep you posted.

"Why is Rose wearing two hats?"
NedB-H on 606
Join the debate

"High teeth!? Lynchy - is that some regional variation or are you just being a bit of a numpty?! Another one would be is it 'off your own back' or off 'your own bat'!? Me (northern lad) and the missus (southern jessie) disagree."
Andy D via text

European Down
0950: Who was it that tipped Sandy Lyle to shine this year? I'm afraid double bogeys at seven and eight and a triple bogey at nine have left him 11 over through nine and needing a minor miracle even at this early stage to stay in contention.

European Down
European Up
0948: A bogey for Padraig Harringon at the sixth sees him drop back to two over but, in better news, there are no outward signs of discomfort from that wrist injury. Meanwhile, Colin Montgomeries holes a monster at the first to hold par - cue yelps of joy from the hoardes of onlookers. What will they do if he, like, you know, birdies one?

"Just back from walking six holes with Justin Rose, Tom Watson and Aaron Baddeley. My notebook's so soggy I can't read what I've written, my hands are so cold I'm struggling to type and my feet are soaking. Plus, one of the top-brand outdoor clothing manufacturers should be ashamed of themselves. Waterproof jacket, my xxxx!"

BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts at Royal Birkdale

European Down
0943: I don't know, commentator's curse strikes again. Just as I was talking him up, Oliver Wilson takes a double bogey at the sixth to slip to two over, to fall back into a tie for 14th. Graeme Storm, also of England, joins him at two over, alongside compatriot David Howell and former US Open champion Retief Goosen. Smart company, that.

"This weather's brilliant - sorts out the men from the boys."
andythetoonfan on 606

"Think a lot of the US players will struggle this week as they are so used to the hitting the high ball- not good if that coastal wind starts blowing! Shot imagination is going to be the key to getting round the course."
B0bby_Peru on 606
Join the debate

"If the wind stays like this it will surely favour some of the guys who can drive it low. Sergio might be worth an investment!"
John Rodgers via text

0936: Close - Paul Casey drifts one wide at the first to miss the chance to birdie the first and he stays on level par.

0935: Rather sombre attire from Ian Poulter out there, I must say, but he pars the first to join the pack of six at the top of the leaderboard. Tom Watson drops back to one over with a bogey at the sixth, but Englishman Oliver Wilson continues to impress at level par through five.

0933: You can't beat British optimism can you? Some poor chap has just been spotted sporting a hat, coat, waterproof - and shorts and flip flops. He looks as out of place as a piece of silverware in the Arsenal trophy cabinet. Oops... did I say that out loud?

European Down
European Up
0931: Justin Rose fails to get himself out of trouble at the sixth and a double bogey takes him back to three over - but Harrington dribbles in a birdie from three foot on fifth to go back to one over.

0928: Former champion Ben Curtis is out on the course, lying three over through one - not the best of starts to be fair - while Justin Rose looks in trouble at the sixth in the deep rough. Lee Westwood and Ernie Els are among the pack on one over, while Padraig Harrington continues to play some excellent rescue golf to stay at two over.

BBC Sport mole
0925: "So here we are at Royal Birkdale and remarkably it's as cold and wet as last year's arctic wilds of Carnoustie. I'm here for the next four days to bring you 'news' and 'insight' from in and around the BBC studio and any other tittle-tattle I can get my hands on. Gary Lineker's got the show up and running and living legend Peter Alliss and Mark James are now giving a commentary masterpiece. In other news, the studio has sprung a leak and turned my copious notes into a paper mache mess. Grrr."
BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale
(I'm not sure what's funnier - the idea of the Mole bringing us 'news' or the claim that he had 'copious notes'. As if - SL)

0919: The TV coverage is well under way on BBC Two now - we are working on a slight technical issue to bring UK users the pictures on here - and it looks like the summer holidays I used to take down in Walton on the Naze as a youth out there; miserable. Still, it has brought out a splendid array of waterproofs from the players - including a pair of silver shoes from Hideto Tanihara of Japan. I'm sorry, but you can't play the Open in silver shoes unless you're going to be utterly mercurial. The pressure's on Tanny...

0911: A little update on a few of the players out there who many are tipping to make waves this week - Retief Goosen, Oliver Wilson, Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els are among seven players on level par at the top of the leaderboard through three, four, two and one respectively, Justin Rose and David Howells are one over and Vijay Singh is three over through two.

European Down
England's Simon Dyson, meanwhile, takes a nine at the par-four 10th to go 10 over. He's just going to have to 'suck it up' and get going I reckon. Sorry.

Andrew Coltart
0906: "Padraig is playing some remarkable rescue golf at the moment. He really hasn't hit a shot yet, but while many others may have been three or four over right now, he's just got the one bogey to his name and he's hanging in there like a champion."
Andrew Coltart on BBC Radio 5 Live

0901: It's not just the weather that's very 'British' at the moment - apparently the trains are flying their patriot flags too - because they've messed up at exactly the wrong moment. A section of rail track has lost its power, leaving hundreds of golf fans attempting to get to Royal Birkdale stranded.

Rudy Boersma, spokesman for Merseyrail, said: "The disruption couldn't have happpened at a worse time." Ouch. Let us know if you're stuck out there because of this and I'll see if I can rustle you up a lift. Erm, no guarantees, though, obviously.

0900: Shake off that early morning slumber people - 606 is open! Get involved and, if you say something interesting, I may even publish it and make you internet famous. If that's not an incentive...
Join the debate

Sam Torrance
0858: "It's as hard as golf gets in this weather - it's cold, it's wet, it's miserable, you're bound to get water in your bag - you have to dig deep and fight. A level-par score will lead the Open come the end of the day if the weather stays like this, if you ask me, so a score under four-over will do nicely."
Sam Torrance on BBC Radio 5 Live

0853: Aussie Peter Fowler - not helped by a couple of double bogeys - continues to hold up the pack on seven over, while Englishman Simon Dyson has slipped back to five over. Three of Dyson's compatriots in Graeme Storm, Justin Rose and Oliver Wilson are faring better at one over, but this is a day for scoring low in the afternoon I reckon. You see Mum - lazy starts do pay!

0847: More problems off the tee for Padraig Harrington as the Irishman fires one so wild it nearly takes Clare Balding out by the rough on the third. Better luck next time Paddy.

0844: "Even cheery BBC weathergirl Carol Kirkwood would struggle to keep a smile on her face reporting in these conditions. It really is rank bad out there - tipping it down and the wind is not helping either.

"The weather is also having a big effect on the early starrrters - of the 30 players that are on the course at the moment, absolutely no-one is under par. Oh yeah, and I can exclusively reveal that the bacon butty was indeed, a work of art."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

0838: A huge smile breaks across the face of Padraig Harrington as he holes a monster putt from 35ft at the second to save par - he needed that after another wayward drive.

European Up
European Down
Justin Rose and Graeme Storm, meanwhile, par the third and fourth respectively to stay one over, Oliver Wilson pars the second to stay among the leaders, and Sandy Lyle bogeys the third to drop to two over.

"Sam, you really should learn the difference between under and over. Under = good, over = bad."
Hywel via text
(If I had a penny for every time I've heard that from the missus... Ahem. I'll try harder Hywel, I promise - SL)

0829: If your tips via text are anything to go by - Coxy in Poole is the latest, tipping Henrik Stenson - anyone from Justin Rose to Vijay Singh to auntie-Joyce-who-lives-down-the-road-and-has-been-known-to-swing-a-club-in-anger-but-only-at-passing-cars can win the Open this year. This could be one interesting weekend...

"Boo Weekleey has good form on links courses - and he wrestles alligators in his leisure time. Excellent credentials for an Open winner! Im on at 80-1."
Marcus, Leeds via text

0823: Mikey (see below) - Sandy Lyle bogeyed the first, but fours at the second and third mean he lies just one over through three - a tie of eighth with seven players at the top of the leaderboard on level par, including Englishman Oliver Wilson.

"Sam, can we see more of Sandy Lyle on the BBC coverage this year? I fancy his chances to win this week."
Mikey, Tillicoultry via text

"Most definitely 'Eye Teeth' (see below) - the upper canines you wouldn't want to lose. You too are welcome, Lynchy."
From Zolin in London via text

Andrew Coltart
"Harrington has failed to square the golf-face up on a couple of occasions and that, you have to say, that is likely down to his injury. On a day like today he won't always be able to keep it out of the rough and it'll be hard day's work."
Andrew Coltart on BBC Radio 5 Live

European Down
0818: Harrington, with no strapping evident on that wrist injury, has to play his second and third shots out of the rough and a two-putt on the green put him one over after one. Justin Rose also drops a shot - at the second - while Simon Dyson is three over through seven.

"I don't understand the fuss about 'devaluing' the event because it is a Tiger-less Open. Sure, he is usually the measure for the field to beat, but as he has won "only" 3 out of 12 Opens played, that means on 9 occasions he did not win it!"
Gary, Herts via text

"Has to be Els, Sergio and Westwood for me. Any order will do for me for the fantasy golf."
Nigel, on a train heading slowly to Paddington, via text

"I'm suprised no-one has tipped the Spanish bombshell. Go Miguel!"
Chris, York via text

US up
0807: Roll back the years people - Tom Watson leads the Open! The American takes a three at the first to go one under - the only man on the course under par as things stand. Justin Rose pars his first, with Harrington in a spot of bother further back.

"Tiger not being there might break the psychological barrier for an Englishmen to finally win the Open! David Howell to bring the jug home!"
Rob Humpherson, Bath via text

"British winner for me this year, Westwood or Monty if he pulls his finger out!"
Rich, on the train to Blackfriars and thinking of bacon sarnies, via text

0800: "The defending champion - Padraig Harrington!" It's an iron shot at the first from the Irishman, apparently injury free, but a little wayward nonetheless as it bends to the right. Heath Slocum cries into his hot chocolate, but the home crowds are delighted - Harrington's Open defence is up and under way.

"Eye teeth? Try HIGH teeth Sam! You're welcome."
LYNCHY via text
(Erm... I'm 99.9% sure the saying is 'eye teeth' (see below) mate. You're not a dentist are you? SL)

0754: A little reminder, by the way, that as well as the conditions, players will be battling a Royal Birkdale course that has been lengthened by 154 yards, had 20 new hazards - including 16 bunkers - added, seen a new green built at the 17th, along with six new tees, with the new layout now totalling around 7,173 yards. Man, I need to get out more I really do.

Bernard Gallagher
0748: Englishman Justin Rose is up and running, hitting the green in two, and former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallagher tells BBC Radio 5 Live: "This could be Justin's year, I think. It will help in these dreadful, tough conditions to be playing alongside Tom Watson, who is a master in this weather. A good start and you never know for Justin..."

European Up
0741: England's Graeme Storm, erm, storms (sorry) to the top of the leaderboard with a par at the first, joining Frenchman Jean Baptiste Gonnet and Scott Strange of Australia at the top with 15 players through the first. A tenuous 'up arrow' opportunity, maybe, but one I shall be exploiting. Ey fank yaow.

"I'm tipping Kaymer to have a great Open this year. Top 10 minimum."
Holdway via text

Mark Roe
"I've heard there exists a pre-arranged signal between Harrington's caddy and the press - and he's just given the mass hoardes of journalists and photographers the thumbs up. Padraig Harrington, it seems, will be defending his title."
Mark Roe on BBC Radio 5 Live

0728: Not the best of conditions for an Aussie today you have to say, and Peter Fowler does his bit in proving that fact right by double-bogeying the first and bogeying the second. He's three over through two and bottom of the pile with twelve players through the first hole. We don't have an 'Aussie down' graphic I'm afraid. Sorry.

"Tiger Woods is not the be-all and end-all of golf. The Open will still be exciting to watch."
Pam via text

0723: Scotland's Colin Montgomerie takes to the range (not the course, thanks people, he tees of at 0931 BST). He's been in fairly decent form of late and many people, like Terry from London below, are holding out hope he can cast his past Major stumbles to one side and impress this week. Forgive me, I'm not holding my breath, but what do you think?

0719: There are now nine players out on the course, with Frenchman Jean Baptiste Gonnet leading the way on level par. Early signs are that this is both the course - and the weather - that may force the odd 10- or 11-shot hole, though, so brace yourselves people, this could get messy.

"Justin Rose-Padraig Harrington one-two for me come Sunday. Not going to happen, but wouldn't it be great? Tell you what, chuck Monty in at third too."
Terry, London via text

0711: Is anyone else out there wondering why our men at Royal Birkdale Mark and Rob insist on teasing us about the apparent abundance of bacon sarnies at the Open this year?

0710: "When 'Hodgo' and I rose from our slumber at some dreadful hour this morning, for the first time in our lives we were a little thankful that we were not professional golfers. We soon had a word with ourselves, though, as we realised that despite the weather, we would give our eye teeth to be teeing it up this week...

"In the media centre, there are a few hardy members of the press tapping away at their laptops, and I am sure that, like me, the main thing on their mind is the thought of a bacon butty and a hot cup of splosh. Champion."
Mark Orlovac, BBC Sport at Royal Birkdale

"A Sam. Get out there take a 3 iron out of parry's bag and nail it to 2 feet on the first. . Are yes. Sam's the man."
Kev, Derby via text
(As much as I massively appreciate the sentiment mate, I have little to no idea what you're on about. Thanks though! SL)

0703: Padraig Harrington has just arrived at the practice range. Here's hoping that's a positive sign - apparently he looks in good spirits, laughing and joking with his caddy and generally looking in buoyant mood. Though that might just be the pain killers. Fingers crossed.

European Down
0655: Englishman Simon Dyson bogeys the second after a steady par at the first - and its the first opportunity we've had to use the 'European down' arrow. Sheer excitement in the office, I promise you.

0643: "The scene out of the lounge window at 0530 BST in Southport earlier can only be described as rubbish. Well, it can be described in other ways not useable on the Beeb but that gives you a rough idea. Honking wind, lashing rain, grey, brooding and, well, just duff weather all round.

"So, it will have been a small bonus when Craig Parry, Simon Dyson and Lucas Glover kicked off the Open in relatively clement conditions earlier - ie. all the same ingredients, just with light rain only.

"You had to feel sorry for the guy carrying the scoreboard though. He was forced to stride forth in just white cotton overalls. Obviously, he had stuff on underneath, but the point is they weren't waterproof overalls.

"Anyway, lots of people around the tee for the first group - more than I've seen at an Open for a few years despite the weather. I've bravely retreated back to the media centre for bacon and coffee as the rain plays a tattoo on the roof. Right at this moment, you can keep being a golf pro...."
Rob Hodgetts, BBC Sport at Royal Birkdale

Mark Roe
"I don't think Padraig Harrington is going to be 100% fit, even if he does start. His team of advisors, I'm sure, wouldn't let him play is he was to cause any further damage that would put him out of the rest of the year, but if the injury can be managed with ice and anti-inflammatories he might just risk it."
Mark Roe on BBC Radio 5 Live

0637: A little word on Harrington, as mentioned below - the Irishman is struggling with a wrist injury and, as well as managing only a handful of shots in practice yesterday, has not played out of the rough all week. He rates his chances of playing as "75%".

American Heath Slocum faces a bizarre, anxious wait as the man in line to take over should Harrington pull out. However, if Harrington tees off and only later pulls out injured, Slocum will not be able to step in. A long way to travel to sit in the rain with the punters, I guess, but a small price to pay for the chance of playing in the world's greatest golf tournament...

Harrington is due to tee off 0758 BST. BBC Radio 5 Live's Mark Pougatch is off to the driving range as we speak to see if he can get the latest on Harry... should he be forced out of the tournament, he will be the first holder not to defend his Open title since Ben Hogan in 1954. I'll keep you posted.

"Well it's 36 degrees in Chennai and sunny! Is that any comfort?"
Darren in India via text
(I'll pass it on and see what they say mate haha - SL)

0631: Parry tees off - and it's a lovely punt with a hybrid iron straight onto the fairway. Respectful applause all round. Beautiful. Lucas Glover and England's Simon Dyson follow suit - the latter even enjoying a little outbreak of something resembling a cheer - and we are under way.

"Welcome to the first day's play of the 137th Open. First on the tee... Craig Parry."
Ivor Robson at The Open

0627: By the way, Mr Robson has 'started' at The Open every single year since Carnoustie 1975 and, as well as not being able to relieve himself at all, will not partake in food, drink or even a seat all day. Blooming weirdo.

0625: The legend that is 'Official Starter' Ivor Robson has supped his honey and lemon, he's had his obligatory one and only toilet break of the day - he literally doesn't leave the first tee from 0620 BST (ish) - and the man who will announce the players for the rest of the championship will get us started in just a moment...

Mark Roe
"It's almost driving rain now, no blue sky anywhere in sight. It's pretty grey and miserable - it'll be a test of survival out there and anything around par will be a miraculous score."
Mark Roe on BBC Radio 5 Live

0615: Devalued? Behave...

We'll say it once, and once only. (All right, who am I kidding, we'll say it a lot more than that, but anyway...). Arguably the greatest golfer the game has ever seen, Tiger Woods, is not here. Get over it.

And OK, there are doubts over reigning champion Padraig Harrington's fitness. Whatever.

Rain
And, yes, instead of the glorious conditions we've enjoyed in London over the past few days, Royal Birkdale is a wash of teeming rain and driving wind. Pah, minor details...

This, ladies and gentleman, is The Open. I am pumped. If you are too, get involved via text on 81111 or, after 0900 BST, on 606. If you're not - why not?!
Join the debate




see also
Open day one photos
17 Jul 08 |  Golf


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