American Zach Johnson leads the Open on five-under-par after a sweltering first day at Muirfield.

The 2007 Masters champion was in brilliant form early on, carding birdies at the 3rd, 6th and 7th holes as well as an eagle at the par-five 5th. Another birdie at 12 and a solitary bogey at the par-five 15th completed a very tidy 66.

“It was a very solid day,” said Johnson. “I felt great. I made some nice birdie putts and obviously that one for eagle. But I struck some really nice solid par putts.

“That’s what you’ve got to do to stay in it. All in all, very solid, but it’s just one round.”

The going was anything but solid for world number two Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman slumped to eight-over-par and said that he felt “unconscious” at times out on the course.

Several of the other top Brits also struggled. Luke Donald ended the day nine-over after a very disappointing 80, while three bogeys and a double-bogey at the 15th saw US Open champion Justin Rose shoot a four-over 65. Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood both ended the day at one-over-par. 

World number one Tiger Woods is perfectly poised on two-under after recovering from bogeys at the 1st and 6th with four birdies on the back nine.
World number one Tiger Woods recovered from bogeys at the 1st and the 6th with four birdies on the back nine to end the day perfectly poised on two-under-par He lies in a tie for 9th with Phil Mickelson, who made the most of the cooler conditions early on to card a composed 69.

The American acknowledged that he was lucky not to tee off during the afternoon, though, when the fairways became almost as hard as the concrete walkways that line the course.

“I got very lucky to play early today,” said Lefty. “As the day wore on and we got to the back nine, about a third of every green started to die and become brown.”

It was also a good day for the veterans. 56-year-old Mark O’Meara lies tied second with Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello, one clear of Miguel Angel Jimenez after a superb four-under 67. And the 1998 champion sees no reason why his good form cannot continue.

“Well, it’s motivating to watch what Tom Watson did at Turnberry,” said O’Meara. “It’s motivating to see what Greg Norman did at Birkdale. Do I think I can [place well this week]? When I play like I did today, yeah, I think I can.”

The day ended prematurely for 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen, however. The South African was forced to withdraw with a neck injury and appeared understandably distraught as he trudged off the ninth green.

Check out tomorrow’s tee times HERE.