Sweden’s David Lingmerth enjoyed a dream start to his Open debut as benign conditions at St Andrews saw the Old Course taken apart early on.
The 27-year-old Swede, who won his first PGA Tour title last month by beating England’s Justin Rose in a play-off at the Memorial Tournament, raced to five under after just six holes having begun his round with four successive birdies.
That was backed up by Irish amateur Paul Dunne, playing in his second Open and first at St Andrews, who went to the turn at four under after birdie putts of 12 feet and five feet kick-started his round.
The 22-year-old – who was mistaken for two-time major winner Jordan Spieth on the range this morning as he wears the same make of apparel – picked up another shot at the par-five fifth and then, having hacked his approach out of the rough at the ninth, holed from 45ft to turn in 32.
Another Open debutant, Robert Streb, was also four under through six holes but Thomas Bjorn – playing in his 18th Open at the age of 44 – showed that experience still does count for something as he also got to four under at the turn with four birdies in five holes from the fourth.
Lingmerth holed a 20-footer at the ninth to move to seven under, covering the front nine in just 29 shots, equalling the Old Course record set by Tony Jacklin (1970), Ian Baker-Finch and Paul Broadhurst (both 1990).
Dunne left his 15-foot par putt short on the 11th to drop his first shot of the day
Bubba Watson, whose big-hitting game benefits a lack of wind, birdied the first from close range but compatriot Patrick Reed was the first to visit the Swilcan Burn guarding that green.
Spieth, chasing the third leg of an unprecedented single-season grand slam, birdied the first two from inside 12 feet to put him within four of the lead after Lingmerth’s unbelievable run came to an end at the 11th where he dropped a shot.
Tiger Woods, despite his continuing struggles with his game, came into the event talking confidently having won the Claret Jug twice before on this course in 2000 and 2005.
However, his first-hole problems refused to go away and although the opening tee shot – his most troublesome in recent times – was a straightforward one aiming at the widest fairway in golf with an iron, he then somehow managed to dump his approach to the green into the burn and make a bogey five.
Among the rest of the Irish, Darren Clarke is at two under after six, while Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry are both at one under. Padraig Harrington tees off at 12.39pm.