The Open Championship - Johnson grabs Muirfield lead, Tiger and Phil lurk

Zach Johnson's putter was as red-hot as the weather at Muirfield as the 2007 Masters champion produced an outstanding 66 to earn the first round lead at The Open Championship.

Golf - Johnson happy to be back on Tour after best man duties

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Zach Johnson (Reuters)

Johnson's five-under-par round left him one shot clear of 56-year-old Mark O'Meara and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both stayed well in touch with round of two-under-par 69.

While Johnson made an electric start to the third Major of the year, world number two Rory McIlroy's troubles continued as he crashed to an eight-over 79.

The fans came hoping to see Sir Nick Faldo shine on his 56th birthday at the course where he won two of his three Claret Jugs.

But it was a different 56-year-old who shone: 1998 Open champion O'Meara, flying a surprise flag for the 'golden oldies'.

The American got off to a superb start to reach five under at the turn, but looked as if he would slip back as he began leaking shots on the tough back nine.

A magnificent eagle on the par-5 17th got him back to four under par, however, and his birdie effort on the last lipped out.

Faldo, for his part, started well but slumped on the way in and finished with a 79 – the same score as McIlroy, and one better than Luke Donald. Faldo's playing partners Tom Watson and Fred Couples fared better with matching 75s.

Oliver Fisher, playing in the first group out, and US-based Scotsman Martin Laird were the highest-placed home grown players after rounds of one-under-par 70.

Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were not far back at one over par, though they had very different reactions.

Poulter was furious at some of the pin placements, suggesting that the 18th needed a "windmill and a clown" suggesting that it was akin to crazy golf.

Westwood, by contrast, came off grinning broadly after a round full of outrageous scrambling which saw him sink huge par-saving putts time and again.

Most of the players were finding the treacherous knee-high rough difficult to cope with and scores were generally high on the banks of the Firth of Forth.

The parched and dry links course was also making it tough for the 156-strong field to control the ball on the fairways and the greens.

Johnson fared the best and he waved his putter like a magic wand to birdie the third, sixth and seventh and eagle the long fifth.

The 37-year-old made further inroads on par at the par-four 12th before dropping his only stroke of the day at the 14th.

"Any time you shoot under par in an Open or a major, for that matter, you have to be putting at least somewhat decent and I putted great," Johnson told reporters as temperatures rose to a balmy 80 degrees in East Lothian.

"This is the Open and you expect difficult conditions but a couple of the pin positions were pretty tough."

Johnson was pipped for the John Deere Classic title in Illinois on Sunday when he was beaten in a playoff by 19-year-old compatriot Jordan Speith.

"I felt great about last week, I'll be honest with you," he said. "I don't want to say I lost the golf tournament but I certainly had ample opportunities to win it.

"The last nine holes in particular I hit great shots, just didn't make many putts. If anything from last week, what I've embraced is the fact I'm playing great and I can put that into play, and I'm certainly confident in what I'm doing."

At the other end of the leaderboard, McIlroy dropped strokes at the fourth and fifth before getting one back with a birdie at the seventh.

McIlroy then frittered away shot after shot on the back nine, carding double-bogey sixes at the 12th and 15th, and he sported a look of sad resignation when he walked off the green at the end of another disappointing effort.

The Northern Irishman has struggled with his new Nike clubs all year, after deciding to ditch his old Titleist equipment, and is still searching for his first win of 2013 after topping the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic last season.

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose slipped to a 75 while title holder Ernie Els was going along well until he needed three to escape a bunker on his way to a double-bogey six at the 16th. Els finished with a 74.

First round leaderboard

1 JOHNSON, Zach -5


T3 O'MEARA, Mark -3

T3 LEHMAN, Tom -3

T3 KAPUR, Shiv -3

T3 JIMENEZ, Miguel -3

T3 JOHNSON, Dustin -3

T3 SNEDEKER, Brandt -3

T9 SPIETH, Jordan -2

T9 WOODS, Tiger -2

T9 MOLINARI, France -2

T9 HAMILTON, Todd -2

T9 MICKELSON , Phil -2

T9 CABRERA, Angel -2

T15 LAIRD, Martin -1

T15 STENSON, Henrik -1

T15 FISHER, Oliver -1

T15 WATSON, Bubba -1


T15 DUKE, Ken -1

T21 FRASER, Marcus PAR


T21 AIKEN, Thomas PAR



T21 MULLEN, Jimmy (A PAR

T21 WRIGHT, Gareth PAR

T28 WAGNER, Johnson 1

T28 THOMPSON, Michae 1

T28 CLARKE, Darren 1

T28 MOORE, Ryan 1


T28 MAHAN, Hunter 1


T28 ILONEN, Mikko 1

T28 CINK, Stewart 1

T28 WALKER, Jimmy 1

T28 BLIXT, Jonas 1

T28 WARREN, Marc 1

T28 KAYMER, Martin 1

T28 DUFNER, Jason 1

T28 POULTER, Ian 1

T28 CLARK, Tim 1

T28 VILLEGAS, Camilo 1


T28 TEATER, Josh 1

T28 TILEY, Steven 1

T48 JACOBSON, Fredri 2

T48 LEONARD, Justin 2



T48 SIMPSON, Webb 2

T48 DE LA RIVA, Edua 2

T48 MCEVOY, Richard 2

T48 DAY, Jason 2

T48 KATAYAMA, Shingo 2

T48 BJORN, Thomas 2

T48 KIM, KT 2

T59 WEEKLEY, Boo 3

T59 ENGLISH, Harris 3

T59 KUCHAR, Matt 3

T59 GRACE, Branden 3

T59 DONALDSON, Jamie 3

T59 SENIOR, Peter 3

T59 CAULEY, Bud 3

T59 CURTIS, Ben 3

T59 LOWRY, Shane 3


T59 ELS, Ernie 3

T59 HORSCHEL, Billy 3

T59 PIERCY, Scott 3

T59 STREELMAN, Kevin 3

T59 HUH, John 3

T59 WADE, John 3

T75 OGILVY, Geoff 4


T75 GARCIA , Sergio 4

T75 MCDOWELL, Graeme 4

T75 SIEM, Marcel 4

T75 WOOD , Chris 4

T75 COLSAERTS, Nicol 4

T75 WATSON, Tom 4

T75 COUPLES, Fred 4

T75 ROSE, Justin 4

T75 BRADLEY, Keegan 4

T75 STERNE, Richard 4

T75 WATNEY, Nick 4

T75 GOYA, Tano 4

T89 WILLETT, Danny 5

T89 YANG, YE 5

T89 FLOREN, Oscar 5

T89 FORREST, Grant ( 5

T89 RAMSAY, Richie 5

T89 GALLACHER , Step 5

T89 MANASSERO, Matte 5

T89 VAN PELT, Bo 5

T89 MURRAY, George 5

T89 BOURDY, Gregory 5

T89 KUBOYA, Kenichi 5

T89 STOW, Ben (A) 5

T89 KOEPKA, Brooks 5

T89 WU, Ashun 5

T89 DUVAL, David 5

T89 STALLINGS, Scott 5

T89 CHOI, KJ 5

T89 DELAET, Graham 5

T89 PORTEOUS, Garric 5

T89 COETZEE, George 5

T89 KIM, Hyung-Sung 5

T89 JEFFRESS, Steven 5

T111 LEISHMAN, Marc 6

T111 QUIROS, Alvaro 6

T111 SINGH, Vijay 6

T111 HAAS, Bill 6

T111 BROWN, Mark 6

T111 KARLSSON, Robert 6

T111 SENDEN, John 6

T118 LYLE, Sandy 7

T118 FASTH, Niclas 7

T118 HENLEY, Russell 7

T118 FOX, Steven (A) 7

T118 OLESEN, Thorbjor 7

T118 FURYK, Jim 7

T118 FOWLER, Rickie 7

T118 FUJITA, Hiroyuki 7

T118 TANIGUCHI, Toru 7

T118 POINTS, D A 7

T118 HARDING, Justin 7

T118 MAYBIN, Gareth 7

T118 MARUYAMA, Daisuk 7

T118 GARRIGUS, Robert 7

T118 JONES, Brendan 7

T118 GUTHRIE, Luke 7

T134 RUMFORD, Brett 8

T134 BROWN, Scott 8

T134 LLOYD, Darryn 8

T134 SALTMAN, Lloyd 8

T134 LYNN, David 8

T134 FALDO, Sir Nick 8

T134 MCILROY, Rory 8


T141 JAIDEE, Thongcha 9

T141 DONALD, Luke 9

T141 JAMIESON, Scott 9

T141 KODAIRA, Satoshi 9

T141 DARTNALL, Stephe 9

T141 DAVIS, Brian 9

148 LAWRIE, Paul 10

T149 GLOVER, Lucas 11

T149 STANLEY, Kyle 11

T149 HATTON, Tyrrell 11

152 INOUE, Makoto 12

153 PUGH, Rhys (A) 14

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