Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Erik van Rooyen makes bright start on maiden outing at Open Championship

The 28-year-old did not drop a shot until his final hole.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen enjoyed an Open debut to remember after setting the first round clubhouse lead at Carnoustie in the 147th Championship.

The 28-year-old did not drop a shot until his final hole as he posted a four-under-par 67 in benign morning conditions.

American Kevin Kisner edged ahead on five under after three successive birdies midway through his back nine but there was a disappointing bogey-bogey finish for 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, who had spent most of the morning challenging Van Rooyen for the lead.

Van Rooyen, a European Tour rookie who finished joint fourth at the Irish Open a fortnight ago, made the most of favourable weather with three birdies in his first six holes as he turned in 33.

He picked up two more shots coming home before an errant drive at the last ended up in a bunker at the last and he could only splash out onto the fairway to make bogey.

By contrast Willett had an up-and-down round, starting with a short missed bogey putt at the first followed by three successive birdies from the fourth to turn at two under, having been told at the ninth his group had fallen behind play.

The Yorkshireman is enjoying a renaissance having slumped outside the world’s top 450 earlier this season from a career-high ninth due to injury problems and a loss of form.

bpanews_f2716c5e-5975-4752-b5b6-2ef9ce18926d_embedded237643737
England’s Danny Willett had a mixed day on the first day of the Open at Carnoustie (David Davies/PA)

His response was to hole a 15-foot birdie putt at the 10th with another coming at the short 13th but, having missed a good chance at 16, waywardness off the tee cost him coming home.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth opened with two birdies in his first four holes to move alongside Willett in the group on two under.

One of the favourites for this week, Jon Rahm, looked to use his length to full advantage this week, driving the par-four third for birdie but that approach cost him at the next when he planted his tee shot into a ditch for a bogey.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph