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Zach attack as Johnson leads The Open but McIlroy slumps to +8

Migual Angel Jimenéz stormed into an early lead but remains in the mix despite dropping two late shots.

Rory McIlroy escapes from a bunker at Muirfield.
Rory McIlroy escapes from a bunker at Muirfield.
Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/

Updated at 19:50

ZACH JOHNSON MAY have lost out in a tense playoff in America last weekend but he opted to focus on the positives and used his good form to lead The Open. The 2007 Masters champion was briefly at -6 but dropped a shot on 14 and finished with a -5 round of 66.

Indian Shiv Kapur exploded out of the traps to grab the Muirfield on -6 after seven holes before dropping back to the chasing pack on -3.

The cigar-smoking, son’s wedding-missing, Ryder Cup legend that is Miguel Angel Jimenéz also got off to a stormer in his first round before finishing two shots back on -3.

Jimenéz was -4 after five holes and hit the turn at -5 before coughing up two shots on his back nine. Mark O’Meara, who won the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale 15 years ago, shot five birdies in his opening nine holes. Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain finished up on -4 after sinking a tricky par putt on the 18th.

Dustin Johnson, a regular challenger if not finisher at golf’s Majors, finished on -3. One shot back is Phil Mickelson [-2], who could have been three to four shots better off it his putter had been firing. The leaderboard has an American look to it at present with eight golfers in the top 13, including Brandt Snedeker and Tom Lehman [-3], and Todd Hamilton all featuring. Angel Carbrera of Argentina is poised to challenge after his first round of 69.


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Zach Johnson went on a run of birdie, par, eagle, birdie, birdie on the front nine. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

Dropping birdie and par putts was the main problem for world number two Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman finished on +8 as he battled with a horrid game all day. He struggled to read the greens, often leaving putts high and left of the target. The 12th hole was a disaster for McIlroy as his chip onto the green rolled back down a steep bank to within three yards of its starting position. He eventually double bogeyed.

Nick Faldo, the former Open winner who was happy to advise McIlroy to ‘concentrate on golf’ earlier in the week, also finished on +8.

Shane Lowry signed off for a round of +3 after dropping three successive shots on his back nine. Padraig Harrington, who was practicing his drives with a spongy ball strapped to his left foot, was -1 after six holes but ended up on +2. Darren Clarke [+1], Gareth Maybin [+8] finished their rounds after 7pm, as did Graeme McDowell. The Portrush native was -1 after eight holes but finished on +4.

Tiger Woods was -2 after a rollercoaster round of three bogeys and five birdies. Louis Oosthuizen is an early withdrawal. The South African pulled his hamstring and was in some discomfort as a golf buggy drove him off the Muirfield course and out of the championship.

For the full and up-to-date leaderboard click here >>

*Piece first published at 12.20

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Patrick McCarry

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