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Devil Ball Golf

British Open, First Round: Zach Johnson takes lead as O’Meara and Lehman turn back the clock

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

• Zach Johnson might have lost last weekend in that playoff at the John Deere Classic, but he obviously brought that hot putter across the pond. His round of 5-under 66 has him atop the leaderboard after the opening round and was as sharp as the scorecard looks.

• Phil Mickelson also continued his good play after that Scottish Open playoff win, posting a round of 2-under 69 despite a three-putt bogey on his final hole. Afterwards it was Mickelson who was critical of the course conditions, but he's still very much in the hunt with 54 holes to go.

• The theme of late at the British Open is older players having good weeks, and Mark O'Meara and Tom Lehman both continued that on Thursday. O'Meara, the 1998 champion, shot a round of 4-under 67 that was thisclose to a 66, and Lehman was a shot behind him with a 68 that included a birdie-birdie finish.

Despite a wild drive to start his round on Thursday, Tiger Woods was solid, posting a round of 2-under 69 to get him very much in the conversation at Muirfield. It was his iron play on Thursday that was the most impressive, sticking shots close on these fast and firm greens.

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Tiger Woods — Getty Images

The bunkers at a lot of these Open golf courses force you to contort in some rather interesting positions, but Tiger Woods was able to get this one up and down despite the weird stance.

• Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, has had a horrendous 2013, and it continued on Thursday at Muirfield as the youngster posted a round of 8-over 79. McIlroy was just 1-over at the turn, but played the back in 42 shots, including two double-bogeys.

• Luke Donald, another former No. 1 in the world, is still searching for that first major win, and it looks like he will still be searching come Sunday. The Englishman shot a round of 9-over 80 that was actually helped by a shot he hit out of bounds that bounced back in play.

• A lot of people had Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler on their short list of potential winners this week at the British Open. Els, the defending champion, shot 74, Rose shot 75 and Fowler came in with 78, meaning a lot will have to happen on Friday for any of these guys to have a shot at making a move over the weekend.

"Well hopefully they'll let go of their ego and set it up reasonable but you just never know." Phil Mickelson, on the R&A and the conditions of Muirfield after the opening round

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Rory McIlroy — Getty Images

Despite a tough round on Thursday, the Nike outfit that Rory McIlroy brought out was just enough green to pop.

Friday marks the second round of the British Open, with Tiger Woods going early and Phil Mickelson late. The coverage kicks off on ESPN at 4 AM ET, with Woods going out right after that, so set your coffee marker and get up for a day at Muirfield expected to be a bit cooler and softer.

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Players complain about British Open greens
Tiger Woods opens with impressive 69 at British Open
Moral grandstanding at Muirfield over males-only policy
Phil Mickelson makes little boy's day

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