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Kevin Kisner hoping to copy Carnoustie housemates by winning first major

Kisner shot a five-under 66 to claim the early first-round lead at Carnoustie.

American Kevin Kisner is sharing a house with several major winners for the Open and he hopes to be able to be join their club later in the week.

The 34-year-old, whose only two professional wins have come in the previous two years, shot a five-under 66 to claim the early first-round lead at Carnoustie.

Kisner is sharing accommodation with defending champion Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker – with eight major titles between them – and Rickie Fowler, with only Fowler and Kisner still seeking their first major success.

But while Spieth struggled on the back nine, dropping four shots over the last four holes which included a trip into the Barry Burn on 18, Kisner had no such problems.

“It’s not intimidating at all,” said Kisner, who also shared Spieth’s plane home after his victory at Royal Birkdale last year.

“They’re all great people. That’s the best part about it.”

Kisner’s run of three successive birdies midway through the back nine, having turned in two under, lifted him into the lead and he managed to stay there by saving par with an 18ft putt on 17 and an up-and-down from a bunker at the last.

It meant he led by one from South African Erik van Rooyen, who did not drop a shot until his final hole as he posted a 67, and fellow American Tony Finau, who was four under through 15.

European Tour rookie Van Rooyen, 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.

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

“It was playing as easy as it was going to play this whole week this morning, no wind at all, so you had to go out and take advantage of it,” said Van Rooyen.

“I was obviously a little nervous, you know, but that’s natural. I’m really proud of how I handled it.”

Another American, Ryan Moore, got to four under after almost registering the first hole-in-one at a Carnoustie Open at the eighth before bogeying the next.

Spieth’s round began to unravel on the back nine after he got to three under through 11.

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He could only make a par five at the 503-yard 14th after his second shot ended up on the adjacent tee box via a spectator’s foot and a plugged lie in a bunker at the next forced him to splash out sideways into the rough, leading to a double-bogey six.

A bogey at the short 16th was followed by a drive into the water at the last, resulting in another dropped shot as the defending champion carded a 72 for one over.

The 2014 champion Rory McIlroy posted his first birdie after driving through the green at the 352-yard third but missed a four-footer for par at the fifth to drop back to level par.

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From Belfast Telegraph