Today at the Open: Spieth, Koepka lead American invasion at Birkdale

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NCG rounds up the very best of day one from Royal Birkdale, including masterclasses from Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka...

Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka have set the bar for the rest of the field as Americans continue their domination of the Southport links.

James Broadhurst and Alex Perry round up the best moments from the opening round…

So what happened?

It was all fun and games early on Thursday, with the likes of Stuart Manley and Alfie Plant both being able to add “Led the 2017 Open” to their respective golfing CVs. But it is the more household names of Jordan Spieth – we were warned – and Brooks Koepka who shrugged off the poor weather that left many of the other early starters in blue to post 5-under 65s that were not matched until late in the day. Perennial major contender Matt Kuchar was bogey-free and looks set for yet another top-10.

The home hopes are led by those redoubtable Ryder Cup stalwarts Paul Casey (66) and Ian Poulter (67) but it was a mixed day for Rory McIlroy, who recovered on the back nine to keep himself in the tournament.

Of the big names, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson are handily placed but Rickie Fowler had to settle for an opening 71 after coming back in three over par.

Feel-good moment of the day

Is there a better way to settle the nerves on the opening hole at the Open?

Take a bow, Charley Hoffman…

Spare a thought for…

Today at the Open

Tommy Fleetwood. The crowds at Royal Birkdale have been rooting for the local lad in the build up to the start of the action but the Open de France winner will need a monumental turnaround to keep the fairytale alive.

He opened with a six-over-par 76, which included a double bogey on the 9th.

Best shot of the day

US Open champion Brooks Koepka produced this moment of magic on the par-5 17th on his way to an impressive opening round of 65.

We are loving the bunker cam, by the way.

Worst shot of the day

Take your pick from a host of cringeworthy moments in Rory Mcllroy’s front nine.

The 2014 winner duffed a chip on the 1st hole on his way to a bogey and it was a sign of things to come.

Stats of the day

Photo of the day

Spieth’s ability to scramble par from difficult situations was vital to him securing a bogey-free round.

This recovery shot from the rough on the par-4 16th was one of several impressive saves.

Today at the Open

Best dressed

Justin Thomas

It’s a look that Ryan Moore has tried to pull off several times but with little success. However, Justin Thomas gets our nod of approval for dressing to impress with this tie and cardigan look.

Got dressed in the dark

Jason Day’s all-black ensemble with white hi-tops deserves a special mention but it had nothing on Martin Kaymer’s jumper, which should never see the light of day again.

Today at the Open

Quote of the day

Spieth, after recording a bogey-free 65, said: “I thought I was very consistent. I drove it especially well, which is very important out here. When I missed my drives, I was missing them in positions I could still hit the greens. Overall, across the board, I would call it nine out of 10.

Betting update

Is anyone surprised that Jordan Spieth is a heavy favourite to get his hands on the Claret Jug?

The Texan is a best priced 9/2 after his first round heroics at Royal Birkdale and it’s a mantle that’s fully deserved.

There’ll be plenty of you out there who want to snap up that price – and good luck to you – but there’s two other players at bigger prices that may provide a bit more value.

Brooks Koepka is 9/1 and that price seems a complete oddity to me. You remember Brooks? He won the last major, the US Open, and has blasted out of the blocks here in some style.

For the each-way punters, Ian Poulter also appeals at around 35/1. He’s been in nice touch for a while now and continued his success from the Scottish Open in an early morning first round that should have seen him at a disadvantage given the afternoon sun.

He’s got Open previous, most notably here in 2008, and won’t be as fazed as some should the expected inclement weather hit hard.

For more from Royal Birkdale, check out our dedicated Open site.

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