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Page last updated at 19:17 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 20:17 UK

Superb Jimenez holds lead at Open

The 138th Open, Turnberry
Date: 16-19 July
Coverage: Live TV coverage on BBC Two, Online and the Red Button, live on Radio 5 Live and text commentary online on all four days

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Round-up - Day one at the Open

By Mark Orlovac
BBC Sport at Turnberry

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez sank a 65ft birdie putt at the last to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the 138th Open at Turnberry.

The 45-year-old carded six birdies in a superb 64 to lead five-time champion Tom Watson, 2003 winner Ben Curtis and Japan's Kenichi Kuboya.

Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Anthony Wall, Graeme McDowell and David Howell lead the British challenge on two under.

Padraig Harrington is one under, with world number one Tiger Woods one over.

England's Ian Poulter, tipped by many as one of the home favourites, had a day he would rather forget as he carded a five over 75.

Paul Broadhurst got the Open under way in benign conditions at 0630 BST and that was how it stayed for the rest of the day - contrasting starkly with the dreadful weather that accompanied last year's opening round at Royal Birkdale.

The day was set up for low scoring and it was Jimenez who took advantage, striking from the edge of the green at the last in the early evening.

The sea looked like a pond, so nice, so calm. You can't ask for a better day

Miguel Angel Jimenez

"I feel very well," said Jimenez, who missed the cut last year. "Since I woke up this morning, the sea looked like a pond, so nice, so calm. You can't ask for a better day to play.

"I was very good from tee to green and with the putter. That's what you need to make a score."

Jimenez's monster putt denied the 59-year-old Watson the honour of becoming the oldest player to lead the Open after the opening round.

Watson showed the kind of links knowledge that guided him to his second Open title at Turnberry back in 1977 as he moved to the top of the leaderboard, rekindling memories of his 'Duel In The Sun' victory 32 years ago.

"Obviously the golf course played with no wind, and it was an easy test," said the eight-time major winner, who carded his best Open round since 1994.

"I feel inspired playing here. A lot of it has to do with being here at Turnberry, just a culmination of a lot of things that have gone on already. Again I feel that I'm playing well enough to win the golf tournament."

Curtis was a surprise Open winner when he picked up the Claret Jug in 2003 and he showed signs of that form again in a round that included five birdies and an eagle at the 7th.

ROB HODGETTS' BLOG

"Any time you shoot a red number in a major is a good thing, no matter what the conditions are like," said the 32-year-old, who has finished in the top 10 in the last two Opens.

"It was pretty ideal out there. You just had to take advantage of it, and I did."

Kuboya, 37, who has only played in one Open before, stormed up the leaderboard with a stunning finish on Thursday evening - claiming three birdies and an eagle in his closing four holes.

Watson and Curtis are one stroke ahead of a group including American duo Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink and Australian Robert Senden, who was only called up to the Open field earlier this week.

Former Open champions Mark Calcavecchia and Mark O'Meara are in the group on three under which includes South African Retief Goosen, who produced a stunning bunker shot on the way to a birdie at the 17th.

The highest profile group of the day was the morning trio of Woods, Westwood and 17-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa.

Woods, returning to the Open after missing last year because of knee surgery, was the bookies' favourite coming into the event but looked out of sorts as he carded a 71.

He hit only eight out of 14 fairways and he admitted afterwards: "Realistically I probably should have shot about one or two under but I made a few mistakes."

I hit the ball well but played with a certain amount of trepidation

Padraig Harrington

The heavily-fancied Westwood had a sparkling start to his round with three birdies in his first three holes but a bogey at the 7th and a double at 16 left him on two under with Ishikawa.

"The first round of major championships you can only play your way out of them, so 68 is right there," said Westwood. "I couldn't have shot much more."

Former Open champions Tom Lehman and John Daly are also on two under.

Harrington, who is chasing a hat-trick of Open titles, came into this event with low expectations as work on tweaking his golf swing left him miserably out of form.

He recently suffered five missed cuts in a row but an opening 69 at Turnberry has given him every chance of being in contention come Sunday.

"I would have taken this score," said the 37-year-old Dubliner. "I hit the ball well but probably played with a certain amount of trepidation.

"I got up and down when I needed to so certainly, while I wasn't shooting the lights out, it gives me hope for the next three days."

Alongside Harrington on one under is Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, English duo Ross Fisher and Justin Rose, Ernie Els of South Africa and Argentine Masters champion Angel Cabrera.

Spain's Sergio Garcia is level par after an up and down 70 which included an eagle, two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.

Colin Montgomerie of Scotland had three bogeys in four holes on the back nine but a birdie at the last left him on one over.



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see also
The Open - day one as it happened
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Legend Watson shines at Turnberry
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Woods begins Open in shaky style
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Open round four tee-off times
18 Jul 09 |  Golf
The Open in photos
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Turnberry gallery
14 Jul 09 |  Golf
Memories of Turnberry
13 Jul 09 |  Golf


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