Kuchar aiming to come of age at British Open

USA’s Dustin Johnson in action during a practice round at the British Open on Wednesday. REUTERS  Paul Childs

It could be ominous, then, that the first round of the event's 146th staging was dominated by three of Uncle Sam's boys.

A 1-under 69 just didn't cut it on a day of ideal conditions when Branden Grace was shooting 62 - the lowest ever score at a major - and Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar were shooting 65 and 66, respectively, in the final group.

One of the more famous incidents was at Muirfield in 2002, when Tiger Woods was going after the third leg of the Grand Slam, two shots behind going into the third round. "I'd give myself a nine (out of 10)".

What would it have required for a 10? "It was fun. I love playing in the wind".

The four-week break was planned before Koepka won his first major at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, mainly because of a big stretch at the end of the year that included a pair of majors, a World Golf Championship, four FedEx Cup playoff events and the Presidents Cup. At five over par through six holes, McIlroy was a ragdoll of a golfer, barely able to keep his feet. "But I'm pretty much saying it was really, really solid all around".

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - The sixth hole at Royal Birkdale lived up to its fearsome reputation Thursday. "Well, our last start was a win (in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut)", replied the 23-year-old Texan when asked why he had felt such positivity.

On a day when Branden Grace shot the first 62 at a major, plenty of other players took advantage of favourable weather conditions to make gains. And I went with those and it worked. "He does do it quite often, it's just whether it penetrates my head is a different thing", McIlroy said. My ball-striking has been better in any years that I've ever played golf.

Koepka considers himself the consummate gamer, though. As this impressive start was being chiselled out, he was already thinking ahead to Friday, when the majority of the field is expected to have both wind and rain to cope with. "I think it's the fairest links golf course we play, it rewards great golf", said Rose.

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"Conditions were really hard today", he said.

"I lined up way left with the whipping wind off the left, just to open the face and have [the ball] get anywhere around or over the green", he said. "After taking four weeks off, it's kind of nice to get back inside the ropes and finally get those competitive juices flowing".

If that weather is indeed bad for the second round, Koepka knows how to handle it. We had a couple awfully challenging days there at the Scottish Open. "It doesn't faze me", he insisted.

"I think that's one of the cool things over here, whether it's Thursday or Friday, whatever your morning round is, getting to go back to the room, put on the TV and watch the guys play in the afternoon, and particularly in tough conditions", he said.

In near flawless conditions, the South African journeyman made five birdies against no bogeys to move to even par in the tournament.

The 27-year-old was four under par through 13 holes before dropping a shot at the 16th.

Another to finish with a flourish was Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who was five over with two to play after a double-bogey at 16 before his first birdie of the day at 17 was followed by his second at the last as he signed for a 73.

Though it seemed like a reprieve the fundamental flaws that produced the opening calamity would contribute to a run of four consecutive bogeys from the third hole, the last resulting from a missed par putt from inside four feet.

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