The first round of the 149th Open Championship saw the morning wave go low and set the pace, and after 18 holes, the field has produced a pair of former winners at the top of the leaderboard. Louis Oosthuizen has finished as a runner-up six times in majors since he won at St. Andrews in 2010, but he’s alone on top after shooting a 6-under 64.
Jordan Spieth is one off the lead at 5 under in what was one of the most exciting developments on Thursday. We’re three Opens and four years since Spieth’s epic win Royal Birkdale, and it’s possible that the success of the last four months — eight top-10 finishes in 14 starts, a win at the Valero Texas Open and a T3 at the Masters — has been building to another major win for the former No. 1 player in the world.
Brian Harman is tied with Spieth, followed by a five-player group at 4 under highlighted by Webb Simpson, who was one of the few players to really go low in the afternoon wave with his five-birdie, one-bogey round of 66. Simpson will be one of the few players at the top of the leaderboard in the morning wave on Friday, setting him up to catch Oosthuizen or push the lead even deeper into red numbers.
In total, 47 golfers finished under par and 18 of those are within three strokes of the lead, leaving plenty left to be decided on Friday in terms of who enters the weekend in a position to win. There may be two former Open winners at the top of the leaderboard, but there’s 11 major winners in the top 20 right now and plenty more names who could end up being named Champion Golfer of the Year at the end of Sunday’s final round.
Check out a breakdown of the leaderboard below and catch up on highlights from the first round in the updates section.
1. Louis Oosthuizen (-6): The round got started steady with seven straight pars before Oosthuizen hit a couple hot streaks coming in, starting with three straight birdies making the turn then three birdies in four holes between No. 13 and No. 16 for a bogey-free 64. In terms of storylines, he’s among the most interesting potential winners; however, before we even talk about finishing as a runner-up for a third straight major — let alone winning one, he must maintain his position on the leaderboard.
T2. Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman (-5): Spieth plotted his way around Royal St. George’s with confidence, bouncing back an early bogey with a statement response of four straight birdies on the front nine. It’s exactly what you want to see from a former champion who seems to have his game moving in the right direction. Harman did the reverse Louis, carding four birdies in his first five holes before leveling out a little over the course of the round. It’s still a great start for a player who has missed the cut in his last four Open Championship starts.
T4. Webb Simpson, Stewart Cink, Mackenzie Hughes, Dylan Frittelli, Benjamin Herbert (-4): The year of Cink continues! Cink has already won twice this year, and now he’s starting his 22nd appearance at The Open — where you may remember he was a winner over Tom Watson in 2009 at Turnberry — with a 66 that puts him two strokes off the lead. Everyone from this group except for Simpson played early on Thursday, so they’ll have to wait until Friday afternoon to begin defending their spots at the top.
T9. Justin Rose, Collin Morikawa, Tommy Fleetwood, Scottie Scheffler, Danny Willett and five others (-3): A runner-up to reigning champion Shane Lowry in 2019, Fleetwood stands to gain a ton from a strong showing here at Royal St. George’s. His finishes have been backsliding a little in 2021, and suddenly, a player who ranked as high as No. 10 in the world prior to the shutdown enters this weekend at No. 35.
T19. Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari and 10 others (-2): There were a couple experts here at CBS Sports who wrote earlier this week that D.J. was the star that definitely wouldn’t win. I was one of those dummies, and even though winning requires more work as he sits four strokes back after 18 holes, there was enough solid play from Johnson to change my expectations for this tournament. D.J. sputtered two holes and carded back-to-back bogeys on No. 8 and No. 9, but he also had four birdies and plus-value ball striking on approach shots. Still a lot of work to win, but worth keeping an eye on considering the form he brought into this week.
T33. Brooks Koepka (-1): It wasn’t a great day on the greens for Koepka, but he managed to roll in a couple birdies and finish under par. If you’re looking for someone who could possibly charge back from five strokes down after 18 holes it’s probably Brooks, so this is where I draw the line for real contention to win. Other notables in this spot: Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler.
T49. Rory McIlroy (E): A disappointing round from the start, McIlroy was fighting his way all through the afternoon, salvaging this round with two birdies and no bogeys on the final six holes.
T73. Bryson DeChambeau (+1): The comments about his driver after the round will overshadow that DeChambeau still found enough moments to take advantage of the course to finish close to even par. His driving accuracy was indeed bad, but he also had four birdies on the round.
T73. Jon Rahm (+1): The betting favorite to win coming into the week had fans tearing up their tickets after a first-round 71. Rahm was looking to make some history after winning the U.S. Open, but running it back-to-back seems much less likely after the first round.