Solid Kapur takes the elite field by storm

American Johnson leads with 67; Woods recovers

Solid Kapur takes the elite field by storm

India’s Shiv Kapur made a roaring start to his British Open campaign before suffering a minor derailment that left him tied fourth after 15 holes here on Thursday.

Kapur, India’s lone participant who missed the cut by a shot in his maiden appearance in 2006, stunned everyone at Muirfield after holding the sole lead at  one stage with some sizzling stroke-making and putting.

Feeding off from his practice round with three-time Open champion Sir Nick Faldo who won his two of those at the same course, the 31-year-old covered the front-nine in a sizzling six-under.

He opened with a hat-trick of birdies and then stitched together another hat-trick from the fifth to seventh, propelling a shot ahead of clubhouse leader Zach Johnson (five-under 66).

Just when the Delhiite appeared going great guns, he dropped a double bogey on the 10th before sinking a bogey on the 14th. He parred the 15th to eventually slip to tied fourth at three-under.

American Johnson, meanwhile, bucked the trend, snatching the driver out of his bag as often as possible to grab the early first-round le­ad on five-under 66.

Many of the players feel that using the longest, and riskiest, club in the bag is unnecessary when they are getting so much run on the ball by the banks of the Firth of Forth - but not the 2007 US Masters champion.

World number one Tiger Woods recovered from a first-hole bogey to card an opening round two-under-par 69. The American, who has been stuck on 14 majors for five years, lashed his opening tee shot into heavy rough and found an unplayable lie but produced a run of four birdies after the turn to put himself in contention at sun-baked Muirfield.

Woods had a frustrating front nine, missing a couple of birdie chances, but struck at the 10th, 11th, 13th and 17th to complete a satisfactory start on the lightning-fast links.
His only birdie going out was on the par-three fourth where he tickled in a slippery eight-foot putt. Woods went out in one-over 37 after bogeying the sixth by duffing a chip and watching his ball roll back off the green.

"I'm very comfortable on the tee box this year, specifically with my driver," Johnson told reporters in scorching 80-degree temperatures on the east coast of Scotland.

"I know a lot of the guys are saying there are not a lot of drivers out here... but it's one of my best clubs so I'm going to take advantage of that when I can."

Johnson is one of several Americans high up on the leaderboard, with 56-year-old Mark O'Meara having shot a 67 and Dustin Johnson, Tom Lehman and Brandt Snedeker going round in 68. Phil Mickelson, Todd Hamilton and Jordan Spieth are a further stroke behind.
"Maybe they all have the same kind of mentality I have ... having fun," he said. "I'm staying with a buddy, my caddie and our physio guy and we're just having a good week.
"I love it because we don't have it in the States. We don't get to play golf courses like Muirfield.

"I appreciate how the game was developed and formed (over here). I just thoroughly enjoy it."

Johnson certainly enjoyed the blistering start he made to the round as he mixed an eagle three at the fifth with birdies at the third, sixth and seventh.

The American is renowned for a velvet touch on the greens and he prompted loud cheers from the crowd when he rolled in a 45-foot effort at the fifth and another 20-foot birdie putt on the 12th.

Johnson suffered the disappointment of losing out in a playoff to 19-year-old compatriot Spieth at the John Deere Classic in Illinois on Sunday.

Leading scores (first round): 66: Jo­hnson Zach (US); 67: Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp), Mark O’Meara (US); 68: An­gel Miguel Jimenez (Esp), Dustin Johnson (US), Brandt Snedekar (US), Tom Lehman (US); 69: Todd Hamilton (US), Phil Mickelson (US); Angel Cabrera (Arg), Jordan Spieth (US), Tiger Wo­ods (US), Francesco Molinari (Italy).

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