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Stenson happy with Open start in defence of title

By Andy Hampson

Open champion Henrik Stenson was pleased with the start of his title defence after shooting one-under par in his opening round at Royal Birkdale.

The Swede, victor in a memorable final-day duel with Phil Mickelson at Troon last year, recorded three birdies in a 69. Stenson felt he could have done better but was happy enough with his position considering that conditions may get tougher in the days ahead.

He said: "I certainly could have made one or two more putts but I'll certainly take one-under. It's a Major championship and ­under par is never a bad score.

"I'm pleased with the first day.

"I think I could have been one or two shots better and finishing two- or three-under would have been, without feeling greedy, a pretty good reflection of how I played but sometimes you're one or two short on that end."

Stenson, who teed off at 9.47am alongside Jordan Spieth and Si-woo Kim, avoided the bad weather that hampered the very early starters.

He said: "It was certainly tough early this morning when we woke up and it didn't seem to be ­particularly nice if you arrived in the first couple of hours.

"We got a fairly good ride. It's windy, it's not easy out there, but it's still nice. This is the way you want it, it's enough to keep you honest.

"But I think we've got some wet stuff heading our way tomorrow and that combination of rain and wind is not always that pleasant to be out in. So we've got to keep our heads down tomorrow, I think."

Meanwhile, England's Andrew 'Beef' Johnston admitted he might need to tidy up his appearance after opening with a 69.

He said: "I need a haircut really bad and I need to get my beard trimmed a little bit!"

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