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First-round notebook: Open Championship

By Mark Williams, PGA TOUR Staff

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spaniard who is ranked No. 42 in the Official World Golf Rankings, shot a first-round 6-under 64 to lead The 138th Open Championship at Turnberry. Jimenez leads by a stroke over Tom Watson and Ben Curtis, both from the United States of America.

Jimenez recorded six birdies in a bogey-free round, including holing a 50-foot putt for birdie at the final hole to take the outright lead.

Jimenez is attempting to become the first European player to win an Open Championship at Turnberry.

Jimenez is a 15-time winner on the European Tour making his 47th start in a major and his 17th start in the Open.

Jimenez earned his best Open Championship finish in 2001 when he tied for third with a host of players, including Ernie Els. His career-best major championship finish came at the 2000 U.S. Open when he tied for second, again with Els, 15 strokes behind Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach.

Jimenez is making his 110th start on the PGA TOUR. This marks the second time he has held the lead/co-lead after 18 holes. He was tied for first at the 2008 World Golf Championships-CA Championship with a 65 and eventually finished T26.

The last time Turnberry hosted the Open Championship (1994) Greg Turner, from New Zealand, held the first-round lead with a 65.

Tom Watson’s bogey-free 5-under 65 ties his lowest first-round in 128 majors.

Watson’s 65 marks the eighth time in 443 major championship rounds he has posted this score -- four of them coming at Turnberry (1977/Rounds 3 and 4, 1994/Round 2, 2009/Round 1).

Watson is the oldest player in the field at age 59, just two months shy of 60. Julius Boros is the oldest major championship winner at 48 years, 4 months, 18 days when victorious at the 1968 PGA Championship. Watson was paired with the youngest player in the field, current British Amateur Champion Matteo Manassero (71), who is 16 years old. Sergio Garcia (70) was the third member of the group.

Watson has three Senior British Open Championship victories (2003, 2005, 2007). His 2003 win came at Turnberry with rounds of 66-67-66-64—263 (-17).

Watson’s low round on the Champions Tour this season is 4-under 66 in the final round of the Senior PGA Championship where he eventually finished fourth, his best showing this year.

Watson is one of only four players in the field this week who have contested the four Open Championships held at Turnberry. Watson is joined by Nick Faldo (78), Greg Norman (77) and Sandy Lyle (75).

Ben Curtis (65) made his best start on TOUR since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship where he shot 65 in the first round. Curtis, the 2003 Open champion, posted 68-64-66-65 to finish T4 at the Travelers Championship in his previous start, where his second-round 64 is his season-low.

Kenichi Kuboya (65), a 37-year-old from Japan, was even-par through 12 holes before playing the last six holes in 5-under. The four-time Japan Tour winner finished birdie, bogey, birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie for 30 on the back nine. Kuboya is currently ranked 125th on the Official World golf Rankings.

John Senden (66) was the last man in the field when Jeev Singh withdrew with a rib injury on Tuesday. Senden is making his 4th appearance in The Open Championship and his 9th start in a major. Senden missed the cut at The Open in 2002 but finished T35 and T45 in 2006 and 2007 respectively. His best finish in a major is T4 at the 2007 PGA Championship.

Senden failed to qualify for the 1994 Open at Turnberry but instead watched Nick Price, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus play a practice round that year. Nicklaus, defeated by Watson in the “Duel in the Sun” in 1977, is the only one of that group not to win an Open at Turnberry.

Steve Stricker (66), winner of last week’s John Deere Classic, is searching for his first major championship victory. He is also looking to make a little history. Since 1949, only six players have won a PGA TOUR event the week before a major, most recent – 2007, Tiger Woods (World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational before PGA Championship). Dating to 1934, Lee Trevino is the only player to win a TOUR event the week preceding The Open Championship (1971 Canadian Open before The Open Championship).

Camilo Villegas birdied Nos. 14, 16, 17 and 18 to post 66, his career-low first-round in a major. In fact, Villegas, making his 13th start in a major, has recorded just one other major championship first-round in the 60s (69/2007 PGA). His 11 other first-round scores in majors have all been over-par.

Stewart Cink and Mathew Goggin posted 4-under 66s. Cink bogeyed the final hole while Goggin finished with a pair of birdies. Both players made six birdies each.

Tiger Woods shot 1-over 71 in Thursday’s first round. This marks the 27th time in his 55thmajor championship start that Woods has posted an over-par score in the first round and 6 of 14 over-par opening rounds at the British Open. Woods has gone on to win three majors after shooting over-par in the first round.

Defending champion, Padraig Harrington (69) is five strokes back of leader Jimenez. Harrington was five strokes behind co-leaders Graeme McDowell, Rocco Mediate and Robert Allenby after last year’s first-round 74 at Royal Birkdale. In 2007 when Harrington won at Carnoustie he was four behind leader Sergio Garcia after a first-round 69. 

A pair of past champions, Mark O’Meara (1998) and Mark Calcavecchia (1989) posted 3-under 67s. Calcavecchia has good vibes in Scotland, having claimed his victory just a few miles north of Turnberry at Troon 20 years ago.

Mike Weir (67) was the only player in the field to hit 18 of 18 greens in regulation.

Phil Mickelson had played 61 consecutive majors before withdrawing from The Open Championship to be with his wife and mother who are both undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Vijay Singh (67) is playing his 61st consecutive major this week, the longest consecutive stretch of any active player on the PGA TOUR.

Paul Broadhurst (70) was up at 3:45 a.m. for his 6:30 a.m. tee time in his 14th Open Championship. It is the first time he has teed off first in a major. His hybrid tee-shot safely found the fairway.

Rory McIlroy (69) and Anthony Kim (73) are paired together in the first two rounds of a major for the third consecutive time. They were also paired together in the third round of this year’s U.S. Open.
       
Adam Scott celebrated his 29th birthday with a 1-over 71.

James Kingston (67), from South Africa, recorded eagles at both par-5 holes, Nos. 7 and 17.

Lloyd Saltman (75) and Elliot Saltman (70) became the first brothers to play in the Open Championship since the Ozaki brothers (Joe and Jumbo) in 1992.

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