The Open Day 1: How the British & Irish players fared

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Rory McIlroy recovered from a disastrous start to stay within touching distance of the leaders on a dramatic first day of the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.

The world No.4, who has missed three cuts in his last four events, had urged fans to “bet on him” to win this week, but one spectator had already torn his betting strip in half as early as the sixth hole as McIlroy plummeted down the leaderboard.

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The 2014 Open champion had just one par and five bogeys to show for his efforts at that stage, but battled back superbly to play the next 12 holes in four-under-par.

Birdies on the 17th and 18th drew the loudest cheers of the day in Southport and left the Irishman tied alongside playing partner and world No.1 Dustin Johnson on one-over-par. 

He said: “I still feel like I'm well in this with the weather we've got tomorrow. If I can go out there tomorrow and keep these good feelings that I have, I feel like I'm still right in this golf tournament.”

Olympic champion Justin Rose also sits six shots behind co-leaders Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka after bogeying three of the last five holes.

Paul Casey leads the British charge after mixing five birdies with one bogey to sit just one shot off the pace. The world No.16 is joined on the first page of the leaderboard by surprise name Richard Bland, who is competing in his first Open since 1998. The Englishman finished on three-under-par alongside qualifier Ian Poulter, who continued his return to form on a course where he finished runner-up at the 2008 Open.

Leading the Welsh challenge is Open debutant Stuart Manley, who briefly held the clubhouse lead on two-under-par after finishing eagle-birdie. Scottish duo Martin Laird and Richie Ramsay also signed for the same score, while Matt Fitzpatrick and crowd favourite Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston both recovered from a slow start to sit a shot further back.

Among those who will be fighting to make the cut on Friday is local lad Tommy Fleetwood, who toiled in the windy conditions while playing partner Koepka stormed to the top of the leaderboard. Fleetwood, who has four top 10s in as many starts, failed to make a single birdie all day as he signed for a six-over-par 76.

Padraig Harrington, who won his second Open title here in 2008, didn’t fare much better as he signed for a 73, while Russell Knox and Tyrrell Hatton endured similar frustrations as they finished four and five-over-par respectively.

There was, however, better news for Danny Willett, who fought back from three successive bogeys around the turn to join Lee Westwood, Chris Wood and European Amateur champion Alfie Plant on one-over-par.

Elsewhere, 1985 Open champion Sandy Lyle will need something special on Friday after finishing seven-over-par.

The British & Irish Leaderboard: Day One

Paul Casey: -4

Ian Poulter: -3

Richard Bland: -3

Martin Laird: -2

Richie Ramsay: -2

Stuart Manley: -2

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston: -1

Matt Fitzpatrick: -1

Andy Sullivan: E

Laurie Canter: E

Paul Lawrie: E

Ross Fisher: E

Toby Tree: E

Alfie Plant (a): +1

Chris Wood: +1

Danny Willett: +1

Justin Rose: +1

Rory McIlroy: +1

Lee Westwood: +1

David Drysdale: +2

Joe Dean: +2

Matt Southgate: +2

Shane Lowry: +2

Connor Syme: +3

Haydn McCullen: +3

Padraig Harrington +3

Callum Shinkwin: +4

Nick McCarthy: +4

Paul Waring: +4

Russell Knox: +4

Darren Clarke: +5

David Horsey: +5

Mark Foster: +5

Paul Broadhurst: +5

Tyrrell Hatton: +5

Tommy Fleetwood: +6

Harry Ellis (a): +7

Robert Dinwiddie: +7

Sandy Lyle: +7

Adam Hodkinson: +10

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