Thursday at the Open was a day when the course could be had and many stars surfaced near the top of the leaderboard.
Six major champions hang within three shots of the lead, and the major-less leader, Adam Scott, is no journeyman either.
Still, not all lived up to expectations during the opening round.
For some, Royal Lytham bit them hard and has them striving just to make the cut heading into Friday.
It's amazing that just five months ago, this man barreled over Tiger Woods and the rest of the field with a final-round 64 at the AT&T National Pro-Am. He seemed like a player ready to return to top form in 2012.
However, Mickelson has struggled mightily ever since, and Thursday's Open was no different.
Lefty actually got out to a fine start in the opening round, putting up two birdies against one bogey over the first six holes.
His adventure on No. 7 completely turned his round on a head.
Trying to play a layup to the par-five, Mickelson inexplicably flailed his shot out to the left and into the "almost impossible" Lytham rough. From there, he compounded the error, as his ball flew out and bounded all the way across the fairway into more thick rough.
An approach short of the green and a failed up-and-down from there and Mickelson had taken a double-bogey seven on one of the course's easiest holes.
It spiraled from there.
His tee shot on eight found a fairway bunker from which he hit into thick rough on the bunker dune, forcing him to take an unplayable. He actually made a great up-and-down for bogey from 150 yards, but it was another shot lost. When he missed a four-footer for par on nine, he had dropped four shots in three holes and was now three over par.
That's where Lefty would finish, nine shots off the lead and two strokes north of the current cut line.
Mickelson was as erratic as any today, finding just six of 14 fairways on a course whose greatest demand is driving accuracy.
He wasn't totally in control through those first six holes, but he held it together pretty well. It took one bad layup on seven to set him off into a funk.
Maybe Mickelson gets it back tomorrow, but he's definitely far out of position after Day One.
This long-hitting, budding star was actually going along quite nicely during the front nine Thursday. He bogeyed two, but with birdies on five and eight, he went out in a one-under-par 33.
The back nine was the issue.
Johnson bogeyed 10, 13, 14 and 17 to close with a tremendously disappointing three-over-par 73.
Yes, the backside is probably the tougher nine, but Johnson needs to finish off his rounds better than that.
This guy was in contention late on Sunday at last year's Open, but with this start, it's tough to believe he'll duplicate it in 2012.
This one was by far the biggest head-scratcher of the day.
Westwood flew out of the gate this morning, birdieing No. 1 and No. 2 to quickly move two strokes below par. With that start and the fact that his superior ball-striking fits perfectly with Lytham, it looked like the Englishman could go real low on Day One.
Then, he crashed back down to Earth.
Westwood's short-game woes reared their ugly head on three, costing him a double-bogey six after it took him four to get in from a greenside bunker.
He would bounce back a bit and turn in one under par, but his momentum had been permanently halted. Any chance at a decent opening day faded when Westwood bogeyed four of five holes in the middle of the back nine.
He finished at three-over-par 73 and barely in the top 100.
Westwood has started slow recently in majors and has disappointed more than a few times over the years here, but his slide today was startling.
As hot as he was over the first two holes, Westwood may have lost this championship with that double on the third.
Also paired with Woods, Rose actually did worse than Garcia.
The Englishman's first-day four-over-par 74 was a very surprising result for two reasons. One, he's a world-class player, and two, he actually did it despite finding the fairway.
Indeed, Rose was in the short grass on 12 of 14 occasions, but his iron game didn't hold up. Poor approaches on the opening holes snuffed out his chances at a decent round early.
Rose bogeyed two of his first three holes to fall behind the pace quickly. As good iron play continued to elude him, though, so did pars and birdies. Rose added to his early misery with three consecutive bogeys from holes No. 6 through 8 and needed a 20-footer for par on nine just to avoid a front-nine 40.
Already five over par through nine holes, Rose's round was beyond saving by the turn. He played the back in one under to come in at 74, but he's still outside the top 100.
Rose has been a trendy pick in recent majors, but with a first-nine holes like that, it looks unlikely that this will be his Open.
Being paired with Tiger Woods can never be a good thing for Mr. Garcia. It's a reminder of old times, when Garcia was a can't-miss star of the future. And with still zero major championships to date, those memories can only be bitter.
Well, with Woods shooting a nice little 67 Thursday, Garcia was set up once again to play the part of underachiever, and he totally obliged.
The Spaniard never looked comfortable during the round, and early on, his fate was sealed. On the same hole where Lee Westwood put up a devastating double bogey, Garcia suffered the same score.
He never came back from that, putting up two birdies over the final 15 holes against two bogeys to finish with a two-over-par 72.
After a poor Masters finish this year, Garcia told the media that he didn't believe he was good enough to win a major. With performances like he had Thursday being so common in the big four, it's not hard to see why.
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