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Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 21:09 UK

Stars struggle on day one of Open

Ernie Els
Els faces a tough task to make the cut

Major winners Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson suffered in the wet and windy conditions during the first round of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

Former Open winner Els and Singh carded rounds of 10-over-par 80, while two-time Masters champion Mickelson fared only one shot better.

"You got rain blowing sideways - it was cold and it was windy," Singh said.

Mickelson added: "The way I was playing, I thought anything in the 70s would be a pretty good score."

Elsewhere, American Mark Calcavecchia, who won the Open in 1989, carded a 76, along with current world number 17 Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

606: DEBATE

Australia's Craig Parry began the 137th championship at 0630 BST, finishing with a round of 77, a score matched by his compatriot and 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, and Americans Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank.

As with Els and Singh, American John Daly, who won the Open in 1995, also finished on 10 over - and the trio face a tough battle to make the cut.

Els dropped nine shots in total over the back nine en route to his worst start in 18 Open championships.

However, five-time winner Tom Watson, 58, thrived in the challenging conditions, carding a very respectable 74.

I felt very confident and I feel very good about the work I've done over the last few months

David Duval, 2001 Open champion

"I always like the challenge of playing against the golf course in really tough conditions especially when I'm playing pretty well which I'm doing now," said the American.

"I'm driving the ball on the fairway which is a pre-requisite for getting round this golf course in this weather.

"We had some strong winds, pretty much from the same direction when Mark O'Meara won here in 1998.

"He won it with an even par score. This golf course is all you wanted back then, but now its 155 yards longer. You have holes like the 6th, I don't think anybody can reach six today into the wind."

David Duval, Open champion in 2001 but who has since plummeted down the world rankings, returned a three-over-par 73 and was understandably delighted.

"It would have been very easy to shoot 80 out there," said Duval.

"Golf isn't about hitting great shots, it's about putting it all together at the right time.

"If I went out again in the same conditions I could hit the ball the way I did and might shoot 80.

"I felt very confident and I feel very good about the work I've done over the last few months, never mind about the past few years."




see also
Open day one as it happened
17 Jul 08 |  Golf


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