The long-awaited return of The Open provided plenty of entertainment on Thursday as Louis Oosthuizen – the Champion Golfer of 2010 – hit the front with a faultless 64.
We look at a few key topics to keep across when the action resumes on Friday.
Will the morning starters prosper again?
There can be no doubting those out early got the better of conditions in round one.
With minimal wind early in the day and Royal St George’s greens proving receptive by links standards, a host of morning starters cashed in.
Remarkably, six of the eight players to post 66 or better all went off in the space of five groups between 9:25 and 10:09am.
The group at four under was eventually swelled by Benjamin Hebert and Webb Simpson, who went out at 1:48pm and 2:26pm respectively and each defied the stiffening breeze with impressive 66s.
Of course, those who went out in the afternoon on day one will now be among the morning wave on Friday.
Plenty of big names have ground to make up and it will be fascinating to see whether they can close in on Oosthuizen and Co. before the leader tees off at 2:59pm BST.
Fleetwood a man to watch
One man to watch on Friday morning is Tommy Fleetwood, who goes out at 10:09am.
The runner-up in 2019 finished his opening day strongly to post a three-under 67, good enough for a share of ninth.
Fleetwood’s last three Open appearances have yielded finishes of T27, T12 and second. If he can improve again this year he will have the Claret Jug in his hands come Sunday evening.
Can Louis stay ‘perfect’?
Oosthuizen described his opening-day round as “perfect” … and frankly it was hard to argue.
After starting solidly with seven pars, the South African caught fire from the eighth hole – birdieing six of the next nine to take up a position at the top of the leaderboard that he retained for the rest of the day.
Oosthuizen has finished second at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open within the last two months – taking his total of runner-up finishes in majors to six.
Yet as he proved so spectacularly at St Andrews 11 years ago when winning by seven strokes, he is more than capable of retaining a lead once he has hit the front.
After a faultless start to the week, the affable 38-year-old knows another ‘perfect’ day would significantly enhance his chances of becoming a two-time Open Champion.
What will it take to make the weekend?
Day one produced a scoring average of 70.96, with 73 players posting scores of even or better.
The top 70 and ties will make the weekend, so anyone currently over par is currently behind the eight-ball.
A host of stellar names are only one over, including Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood, 2016 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson and reigning Champion Shane Lowry.
With more good weather forecast on day two, all five of those men will surely feel they need to be in red figures when they return to the course.
The race for the Silver Medal
The prestigious Silver Medal is only awarded if at least one amateur player makes the cut.
Yuxin Lin is well placed to do just that after an impressive one-under 69 saw the Chinese youngster end the day in a tie for 32nd.
Lin has a three-shot and 59-place advantage over Denmark’s Christoffer Bring, with the six remaining amateur players tightly bunched behind.
Abel Gallegos and Joe Long were both round in three-over 73s, Laird Shepherd and Matthias Schmid each shot 74 and both Cole Hammer and Sam Bairstow posted scores of 75.