Berliner Tageblatt - Cameron Young takes lead as British Open begins amid fallout from LIV series

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Cameron Young takes lead as British Open begins amid fallout from LIV series
Cameron Young takes lead as British Open begins amid fallout from LIV series / Photo: © AFP

Cameron Young takes lead as British Open begins amid fallout from LIV series

Cameron Young of the United States stormed into the lead with an eight-under-par 64 in the first round of the 150th British Open at St Andrews on Thursday, as the championship began amid the fallout from the breakaway LIV series.

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Young, the 25-year-old American, produced a flawless round featuring no bogeys and eight birdies, including five on the outward nine and one at the 18th.

That gave him a lead of three shots in the clubhouse by mid-afternoon from Australia's Cameron Smith, who shot a 67.

Ranked 32nd in the world, Young finished tied third in this year's PGA Championship and has now put himself in a strong position to go on and be a contender into the weekend.

"I think any time you're around the lead in a major championship or any PGA Tour event, frankly, you get more and more comfortable every time," said Young, who first played the Old Course with his parents aged 13.

"Whether I'm leading by three or one or four back after today, I'll sleep just fine."

Rory McIlroy was the favourite for the Claret Jug coming into the week and the Northern Irishman, who won the Open at Hoylake in 2014, started strongly to sit at five-under for the day after 14 holes.

Tiger Woods, twice an Open champion at St Andrews, was among the leading names who did not go out until the afternoon, with the 46-year-old teeing off at 2:59 pm (1359 GMT).

Even with the golf underway, the landmark staging of the world's oldest golf tournament has not been able to escape the controversy caused by the Saudi-backed LIV tour.

- Poulter jeered -

England's Ian Poulter, one of 24 players in this week's line-up who agreed to join the breakaway series, was booed on the first tee as he went out in one of the first groups early in the morning.

After being jeered by the galleries, he hit his tee shot way left and almost finished out of bounds on the far side of the 18th fairway.

However, he recovered to shoot a three-under-par 69 in a round that included a mammoth eagle putt at the par-four ninth, and Poulter later insisted he did not hear any jeers.

"I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest. All I heard was clapping," said Poulter.

"I shot three-under. I was quite happy. I was nice and relaxed."

Former Open champion Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are also among the LIV series members who are at St Andrews.

Westwood shot a four-under-par 68, while DeChambeau was one stroke back.

- Rose pulls out -

Open organisers the R&A opted not to ban the rebels, in contrast to moves made by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

However, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers issued strong criticism of the Saudi-backed series, which offers prize money of $25 million for each 54-hole event, compared to a $14 million prize pot for this week's Open.

The LIV model, he said on Wednesday, "is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money".

Woods also hit out at rebel players this week, but DeChambeau insisted he was not letting any criticism affect him.

"I respect everybody's opinions. Again, for me it was the best decision for me at that point in time and still is," the 28-year-old said of his decision to leave the PGA Tour.

Whether from the LIV series or not, players in St Andrews this week are competing to succeed Collin Morikawa, the Californian who won the Claret Jug last year at Royal St George's.

However, England's former US Open champion Justin Rose withdrew just before his scheduled tee-time on Thursday due to a back injury.

His place was taken by Rikuya Hoshino of Japan, while South Africa's Erik van Rooyen pulled out with a neck injury to be replaced by Aaron Rai of England.

The course is hosting the championship for the 30th time, the first since Zach Johnson won here in 2015 after foul weather delayed the finish until the Monday.

The Open is expecting record attendances for the week of 290,000, meaning galleries will be packed for the first championship since the end of pandemic-related restrictions.

S.Keller--BTB