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McIlroy Ahead After First Round of British Open

by Photo of Sam Cohen

Tiger Woods put in a solid round while plenty of players went low on day one.

McIlroy Ahead After First Round of British Open

The British Open is underway and so far, it has lived up to the hype. There were many stories to follow heading into the weekend, including whether Tiger Woods could regain his form after undergoing a microdiscectomy in March. The surgery forced him to miss his first Masters Tournament since 1994. Other stories include whether Adam Scott, the number one ranked player in the world, can justify his ranking by winning his second major and if Rory McIlroy can keep it together after the first round, a problem he's been dealing with for a while now.

As Day 1 continues, let's take a look at where some of Golf's biggest names are on the leaderboard so far.

The Top of the Leaderboard

Somewhat unsurprisingly, McIlroy leads the field after he finished Day 1 six under par. He shot a 66, which is what Golf fans have come to expect from the superstar.

The real question becomes whether he can keep this up. This year, he shot a 77 in the second round of the Masters, a 74 in the second round of the Players, and a 78 in the second round of the Scottish Open last week. It would be great to see Rory come out strong tomorrow, but fans have every reason to be skeptical. If he keeps hitting shots like this beauty he hit today (see GIF), McIlroy should have no problem remaining at the top of the leaderboard.

Italy has to be proud today. Matteo Manassero trails McIlroy by one shot, finishing his day at five under. The Molinari brothers are also not far behind, as both players finished the round at four under. While the odds are against these three Italians keeping this level of play up, they have represented their country very well so far.

Sergio Garcia always seems to be near the top of the leaderboard, but he just hasn't been able to win a major championship. Garcia was my pick to win the tournament and so far, so good. He sits at four under, having birdied three of the first five holes. He usually seems to do well on this course, with seven top-10 finishes at the British Open. Whether he has the ability to finish on top remains to be seen. He is tied with American star Jim Furyk.

As for the rest of the golfers who sit near the top, the number one ranked golfer in the world, Adam Scott, also sits at four under. He has been very consistent over the past few years and it is safe to say that his name will still be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Rickie Fowler, who finished second in the 2014 U.S. Open and fifth in the 2014 Masters, is three under. Though he finished eighth in last week's Scottish Open, he seems to be back on track after some inconsistent play and will be a name to watch for the next couple days.

Tiger In The Hunt

Oh, and there's some guy named Tiger Woods. Woods also sits at three under and has shown no signs of back pain, elbow pain, or rust. Playing in his first major championship of 2014, Tiger made five birdies in six holes during the back nine and looked like the old Tiger. While it is highly unlikely that he wins the British Open this year, it is good to see him playing well and whether you like him or not, the sport needs him to find the form that made him one of the most dominant athletes for so many years.

This shot from Tiger says everything you need to know about how he's feeling:

Rest of the Field

While there are certainly a lot of big names at the top of the leaderboard, there are also a handful of top-tier golfers that must play better in order to win this tournament.

Jordan Spieth (pictured below) and Lee Westwood had very good days, but both men still find themselves trailing McIlroy by five shots. Speith is a fan favorite, as he is only 20-years-old and one of the up-and-comers in Golf. The only thing that can stop him is a lack of experience, but he has to be on his "A" game for the next two days. Westwood, meanwhile, hasn't had much success in major tournaments and is looking to right the ship in his home country.

Justin Rose finished the day at even-par, but it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Englishman turn it on tomorrow. Rose is in the prime of his career and he's been winning a lot lately. Look for Rose to come on strong beginning tomorrow.

Henrik Stenson drove the ball really well today, as he finished the day with a 92.9% driving accuracy. He also finished the day at even-par but since he came in second to Phil Mickelson at this same tournament last year, he is another guy sitting in the middle of the pack that cannot be ignored. He didn't seem to be to pleased about some of his shots, however:

Speaking of Phil, he finished the day with a disappointing two over. Phil has had a frustrating year, as he missed the cut at the Masters AND the Players Championship and hasn't had a top-ten finish this year. Phil is a force to be reckoned with when he is on his game and we saw that when he won this tournament last year, but he is off to a rough start. Hopefully he finds his form tomorrow.

Just like Phil, Bubba Watson is an American that had a rough day today. Bubba finished four over par and while an epic comeback is not out of the question, it seems unlikely at this point. Bubba just can't seem to put it together on older, more traditional courses and today was another example of that.

By the end of tomorrow, there will certainly be a clearer picture of who has a shot to win the British Open and who does not. We will be updating you throughout the tournament, so stay tuned, golf fans!

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