Eubanks: It's great that the gang's all here
Sure, it's only one round. But you would be hard pressed to hand-pick a more star-studded leaderboard after the first round of the 141st Open Championship, says PGA.com's Steve Eubanks.
Yes, it's early, but if you don't like this leaderboard, you don't really know the game.
Not only is the leader, Adam Scott, one of the most popular players in the world and one of the most talented to never win a major, Royal Lytham & St. Annes brought out the best in the best. There are seven major champions in the top 11 after Day One.
The resumes of everyone between the leader (Scott, at minus-6) and the six players tied for fourth at 3-under include a combined 22 major championship victories and 225 professional wins around the world.
Of the 13 players within three shots of the lead, none is winless. Tiger Woods leads the way with 101 worldwide professional victories, while Toshinori Muto brings up the rear with four win in Asia. Six of the top dozen have 10 or more professional trophies at home.
This was like an action movie with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Cruise, Jet Li, Christian Bale, and all the Avengers.
Scott made eight birdies and two bogeys; Tiger shot 30 on the front nine; Bubba Watson wowed the British crowds with four birdies and shots few had ever seen; while Ernie Els had six birdies, including two of the last three holes to join the party. Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Lawrie: the gang's all here.
Sure, it's Thursday. Sure, this is like the first 50 laps of the Daytona 500 - nice to talk about but meaningless when it comes to picking a winner. Remember the last major when a lot of experts seemed ready to hand the trophy to Tiger when he led after Friday. Almost no one other than his immediate family put Webb Simpson on their weekend list.
Weather could blow in at any moment and turn this Open Championship completely on its head. Two years ago, McIlroy shot 63 and led after day one, and then shot 80 on Friday. In 1999, Rod Pampling led at sundown on Thursday and missed the cut. Amateur Tom Lewis led after the first round last year. He finished tied for 30th.
There certainly could be a dark horse hoisting the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon, someone from deep down the opening leaderboard who steadily plugs his way up for the final three rounds.
But for the time being -- a brief moment the temperamental English weather and all the stars aligned - birdies flew and the greats of today rose to the top in golf's oldest championship.
It doesn't get any better, at least in an opening around.