Zach Johnson got it going early during the first round of the British Open and he didn’t let up. He ripped through the fifth, sixth and seventh holes going eagle – birdie – birdie en route to a first round score of 66, which was good for five under par and the lead in the clubhouse. Johnson is presently one shot clear of Rafeal Cabrera-Bello – who is also in the clubhouse – and 56 year-old Mark O’Meara who was five under par after his first nine. O’Meara has dropped a shot on the back nine to move into a tie with Cabrera-Bello.
Johnson was in the morning group of golfers and was able to take advantage of conditions that were slightly damper than what the guys on the course now must face. Approach shots have been running significantly more than they were in the morning. The combination of wind and dry, fast greens will make Muirfield an even tougher test this afternoon. Unless O’Meara can grab a few of the scarce birdies that are still out there, Johnson will take the lead into the second round of the Open Championship.
I wouldn’t expect to see many scores of six under par in every round. The thinking before the tournament was that a score of somewhere between seven and 10 under par would be good enough to win the Claret Jug. That is still likely to happen as conditions and pin placements become exceedingly more difficult as the tournament progresses. The leaders will almost certainly fall back to the pack a bit. The question that remains is does the rest of the field surge or fall back as well?