Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Lawrie off to strong start

Paul Lawrie was the early leader at Lytham

Former champion Paul Lawrie set the early pace as the 141st Open Championship got under way today - but two familiar names were also quickly among the birdies at Royal Lytham.

Lawrie, who has made the halfway cut just five times in 12 Open appearances since his victory in 1999, chipped in twice in the first five holes as the early starters sought to take advantage of the calm conditions on the Lancashire coast.

The 43-year-old Scot also added a birdie in more conventional fashion to move to three under par, one shot ahead of Lee Westwood and India's Jeev Milkha Singh, who had gone to the turn in 32 just four days after winning the Scottish Open to secure his place at Lytham.

Westwood had made the perfect start with a birdie from just three feet on the first, the only opening par-three on the Open rota, before adding another from 18ft on the second.

And 14-time major winner Tiger Woods also picked up a shot on the first, the former world number one holing from 14ft to join South African Ernie Els on one under.

However, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was having an unhappy start to the defence of his title, leaving a birdie putt short on the first and dropping shots at the next two holes to lie two over.

England's Barry Lane had struck the opening shot of the championship at 6:30am, while playing partner James Driscoll carded the first birdie before experiencing the perils which Lytham can hold, slumping to nine over with two double bogeys and a triple bogey in a front nine of 43.