Rory McIlroy Grabs First Round Lead at St. Andrews

It was an exciting first round at the 2010 British Open today, with several intriguing storylines already coming to the forefront. We’ve got one of the young guns in the lead, with Rory McIlroy tying a major championship scoring record with his 9-under 63 on the round, and we’ve got a blast from the past with John Daly shooting a 66, and only sitting three shots off the lead as we head into the second round. Oh, and Tiger Woods isn’t too far behind after an opening round 67. Recipe for an interesting weekend? I’d say so.

I said in my predictions that McIlroy had already proven himself on a big stage earlier this year, after his win at Quail Hollow, and that this could be the place where he could do it once again. He’s set himself up perfectly for the next few rounds, and even if he struggles a little tomorrow, he’ll still be towards the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend.

As for Woods, I think we all knew that he would be in the mix. We all know what he has been through in his personal life, and that his golf game hasn’t exactly gotten back on track since. But this is probably the best place for him to get going again, and with him already only a few shots off the lead after day one, we can probably expect him to be a major factor when Sunday rolls around.

And then there’s JD. Last year, we had Tom Watson stealing the show and captivating golf fans for four straight days. Can Daly repeat that this year, and win at St. Andrews for the first time since 1995? He’s certainly put himself in a good position, and if his putting is there tomorrow, he’s going to have a lot of confidence heading into the final two rounds. I hope he keeps playing well, and gives us another great story from a veteran for the third year in a row at this event (don’t forget Greg Norman a few years ago at Royal Birkdale).

A few other notes from round one:

– Like Tiger, Lee Westwood started off with a 67, and is right in the mix heading into the second round. Let’s face it. When there’s a major championship, you can bet that Westwood is going to be in contention. He’s just gotta figure out how to pick up a victory.

– My pick for the week, Ernie Els, is six shots back after shooting 3-under in the opening round. The Big Easy had a bogey-free round, and made solid shots the entire today. With unpredictable weather conditions, he’ll need to stay consistent, as it’s unlikely that we’ll see extremely low scores the next few days.

– If you’ve followed the site before, you’ll know that Nick Watney is usually a popular pick of mine when it comes to predictions, and perhaps I should have included him this week. Watney shot an opening round 67, and is right in there with Woods and Westwood. When Watney plays with confidence, he’s as good as anyone out there. I hope he can keep it going through the weekend.

Phil Mickelson couldn’t get much going in round number one, as he settled for a 1-over 73, which puts him ten shots off the lead. That’s a lot of ground to make up after day one, so it’s hard to see Phil factoring into the equation when it comes to being a contender in the final two rounds. But if conditions are right, he definitely needs to make up some ground tomorrow, or he’ll be heading home after the second round.

Needless to say, this edition of the British Open has started off with a bang, and with JD and Tiger both chasing the young superstar, it’s sure to offer plenty of drama and suspense over the next few days.

It should be a great second round tomorrow!

Tags: British Open Analysis British Open First Round British Open Predictions Daly 1995 Ernie Els Golf Golf Majors John Daly Lee Westwood PGA Phil Mickelson Rory McIlroy St. Andrews The Open Championship Tiger Woods

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