Robert Streb’s first round on the historic Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland is one that he will never forget.
Streb fired a 6-under-par 66 and was just 1 shot off the pace set by Dustin Johnson in the first round of the British Open on Thursday. For LIVE SCORING, click here.
“It’s been really cool,” said Streb, a 28 year-old who played in college at Kansas State and now lives in Shawnee. “I enjoyed everything about it.”
Streb got off to a good start when he hit a wedge within 15 feet on No. 1 and made the birdie putt. He made four more birdies on the front nine, making the turn in 31, and had two birdies and one bogey on the back nine. The lone bogey came when he 3-putted on No. 10.
“I have never been here before,” Streb said. “I’ve never done much with links golf but St. Andrews is a pretty good place to start.”
Streb benefited from playing a practice round earlier in the week with Kansas City legend Tom Watson, who opened what is likely his last British Open with a 4-over-par 76.
“He was pretty helpful,” Streb said. “He’s obviously has a great track record over here. I pre-arranged it last week. I knew the week would be busy for him but luckily he was nice enough to play.”
Streb said he knows that he will have to make some adjustments to stay in contention through all four rounds.
“I wouldn’t say I’m overly comfortable,” he said. “I still don’t know what to expect when the wind changes, but I’m just going to try my best and see how I do.
“I’m sure it won’t be very easy. I haven’t had the chance to play this place in a real heavy wind yet, but I’m sure it will be a treat.”
Johnson’s round of 7-under 65 included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth. Like Streb, Johnson played before the wind picked up in the afternoon. He took a 1-shot lead on Streb, Retief Goosen, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Danny Willett.
“It’s all about navigating the bunkers out here off the tee,” Johnson said. “Today, I drove it really straight, I drove it well. I have been for a while now.”
Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters and U.S. Open earlier this year and is trying for the third leg of the calendar-year Grand Slam, opened with a 67.
Spieth closed his round with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 and shot in the 60s for the sixth time in nine rounds in majors this year.
“The game plan was to get into position after round one,” Spieth said, “and that’s what we’ve done.”
While things were going well for the leaders, former KU golfer Gary Woodland shot an even-par 72 after being 4-under at one point, while Tiger Woods was struggling even worse. Woods had five bogeys and one birdie while shooting 76.
It was his worst round as a pro at St. Andrews, where he won the British Open in 2000 and 2005.
“It’s the way it goes,” Woods told reporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this story
To reach Tom Smith, call 816-234-4240 or send email to email@example.com.