Jul 16, 2010 12:42 AM

Golfers beat up the Old Course in opening round of British Open

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) - Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland has tied the major championship record by shooting a 9-under 63 in the opening round of the British Open.

The 21-year-old got rolling Thursday with an eagle at the par-4 ninth, where he drove the green and rolled in the putt. He then made six birdies on the homeward holes, posting a 30 that tied the
back-nine record at the Open.

McIlroy became the 22nd player in golf history to shoot 63 in a major championship. Greg Norman and Vijay Singh have done it twice, and the last player to do it was Tiger Woods at the 2007 PGA Championship.

The early starters took advantage of nearly perfect scoring conditions - little wind and only a sprinkling of rain. The sun even popped out just as McIlroy was finishing.

After missing the cut at this year's first two majors, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland matched the major championship record and has a two-stroke lead over Louis Oosthuizen. The South
African made a run at McIlroy but carded his only bogey of the day at 17 on the tough "Road Hole" and settled for a 7-under 65.

John Daly, the 1995 Open winner at St. Andrews, shot 66 and is tied with Scotland's Andrew Coltart, Britain's Steven Tiley, Bradley Dredge of Wales and Sweden's Peter Hanson.

Tiger Woods carded a 67 as he seeks his fourth British Open title and third at St. Andrews. The world No. 1 is in a large group of golfers that includes fellow Americans Sean O'Hair, Nick Watney and Lucas Glover, and third-ranked Lee Westwood of England at minus-5.

Winds stiffened as the day went on, making it more difficult for afternoon players like second-ranked Phil Mickelson, who carded a 73 and will be playing to make the cut on Friday.

Defending champion Stewart Cink could do no better than a 1-under 71. And the man he beat in a playoff last year at Turnberry, 60-year-old Tom Watson, signed for a 73.

U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland opened with a 71.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)




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