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The 149th Open Royal St George's

What they said


Best quotes from Day 1 at The 149th Open

Paul Casey makes a great start

After 725 days, The Open returned in glorious fashion at Royal St George’s with Richard Bland striking the first shot of the week.

Plenty have followed and made their way around the famous Sandwich links, with scoring already in the red for many.

Here’s the best of the reaction after the opening-day rounds. 

Rose fancies English winner

Justin Rose didn’t drop a shot en route to a round of 67, putting him level with Danny Willett and one clear of Paul Casey as part of a strong homegrown challenge.

And the 2016 Olympic champion thinks now could be the time for a first English winner since 1992.

“Right now, I think it's probably as strong a chance as we've had, maybe even ever,” he said.

“The quality of golf that a lot of the guys are playing, Tommy [Fleetwood], Paul Casey, Poults [Ian Poulter], Matt Fitzpatrick, obviously myself, they've had an opportunity to win many majors with Westy, and Poulter has had a couple looks at the Masters. Listen, the lads can do it. 

“We've all grown up playing lots of links golf and it should be a style of golf that we all relish. Hopefully Royal St George's with the St George's cross is kind of a lucky omen this week.”

Justin Rose plays his second shot from the left of the hut on 18

Sergio battles gridlock

Sergio Garcia is well placed at -2 after the first round of his 23rd Open and was doubly satisfied having found the roads around Royal St George’s as challenging as the course itself.

“I’m very happy with it,” he said.

“Even happier after how the morning started, where because of terrible traffic coming in, even though I left the house with plenty of time, I needed a little bit of help from a couple very nice English policemen on the bikes to get me here with only about 35, 40 minutes to tee off, when usually I like to be here around an hour and a half, hour and 25. 

“We couldn't move, and thankfully they helped us a little bit and got us here in time. I was able to do a very quick practice, very quick warmup, but it worked out okay because I played nicely.”

DJ satisfied with start

World no.1 Dustin Johnson, a runner-up here a decade ago, was pleased with his efforts after a two-under round of 68.

“I thought I played very solid,” he said.

“Got off to a nice start. Struggled a little bit on 7, 8, and 9. Kind of gave a few shots away there. 

“Didn't get up and down on 7 and made bogey on 8 and 9 from the fairway, which you just can't do. Other than that, I think it was a really solid day and I'm pleased with my performance.”

Delighted Danny senses big week 

Danny Willett is still making his way back from appendicitis but produced some of his best golf on day one, finishing with a -3 round of 67.

The 2016 Masters champion has a pair of T6 finishes at The Open, including last time out at Royal Portrush, so knows what it takes to play well on the links. 

“I think you look back at most people who have done well or won major championships, they're always within the top 20, top 30 after day one,” he said.  

“You're going out there really - you're still getting feel for it. You're still nervous on that first day. 

“It’s nice to come out and put yourself in a position where whether you're a few back or whatever it is, you're in a position where you can keep moving forward.” 

A rare clean round for Casey 

Paul Casey took advantage of the gentle conditions this morning, birdieing the 1st and 3rd holes on his way to a -2 start. 

“It was obviously a clean round, which a very rare for me at an Open Championship,” he said. 

“Started off great with a birdie on the 1st and another birdie on the 3rd. I thought it was perfect golfing conditions.

“The key is you have to drive it well. The greens are pretty slow, so I think that mutes any sort of really big advantage on the green if somebody is a brilliant putter versus a guy who is maybe average.

“A guy who has basically the ball on a string, drives it well, that's the horse to back this week.” 

A South African invasion?

There are 13 players from the Rainbow Nation in the field this week and Justin Harding got them off to a strong start with a -3 round of 67. 

The 35-year-old is happy with his own game after three birdies in the final five holes and is hoping either he or one of his compatriots can lift the Claret Jug this week. 

“That would be lovely, whether it be me or whether it be a couple other ones. I think there's 13 of us playing this week,” he said. 

“We've got a strong contingent and they're all capable of playing well. We had a good run earlier in the European Tour season and wouldn't it be nice if we could kick-start another one. 

“Ultimately I was just quite happy getting in with a couple under. 3 is a bonus. I'm very pleased with the day.” 

Clarke revels in Royal St George’s return 

It’s a special week for Darren Clarke, the last man to win The Open at Royal St George’s back in 2011. 

The Ulsterman bogeyed the 1st hole but played steadily from there, signing for 71 that leaves him at +1 for the Championship. 

“It was wonderful to be back, he said. “You know, the reception I got on the first tee and the first fairway was great. 

“I actually hit the ball pretty nicely but I missed a couple of fairways by two inches and all of a sudden when you're in that you're trying to run the ball up or you're aiming away from flags to not make any stupid mistakes. 

“Consequently my stats may have been somewhat misleading today, which frequently happens in links golf. But overall I was quite pleased with the way I actually hit the ball and the way I played.” 

Mixed bag for Forgan

Sam Forgan, whose journey to Royal St George's was tracked by The Road to The Open series, came home +3 in his opening round.

He was critical of his overall performance but the day still contained plenty to savour.

“To start with I was absolutely awful," he said. "Oh my God, it was terrible. You’ve got to keep it in the fairway. I was just all over the show the first seven holes. Could have been anything. Thankfully I managed to hit it a bit better coming in.

“Padraig [Harrington] was really gracious and answered all my questions. He was great. We were both struggling with our games a little bit today, so conversation maybe didn't flow as well as it maybe would've. Hopefully we play a little bit better tomorrow.

“I had loads people in the crowd that I knew. And the birdie on 3, when I rolled that in it was like I won the tournament there was so many people shouting out. It was amazing, a great experience.”

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