Some notable players performed well in the first round of the 2013 British Open on Thursday at Muirfield.
Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, posted a five-under-par 66 on the day. Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Masters and British Open champion, registered a four-under 67. Dustin Johnson, who tied for second at the British Open in 2011, notched a three-under 68. Brandt Snedeker, who tied for third at the British Open last year, also posted a three-under 68.
Here are some top pairings and predictions for Round 2 on Friday.
*Pairings and tee times via TheOpen.com
Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, *Louis Oosthuizen (*Withdrew)
Tee Time: 4:44 a.m. ET
Three-time British Open champion Tiger Woods came into the 2013 British Open with five top-10 finishes and four wins on the PGA Tour this year. And he finished very strong on Thursday.
Woods ended up with a two-under 69 on Thursday after posting four birdies on the back nine. He posted a 32 on the back nine despite the average score being 37. Watch out for Tiger at Muirfield.
Graeme McDowell, on the other hand, didn't fare well, posting a four-over 75 in the first round. He had a combined five top-10 finishes and two victories on the PGA Tour and European Tour this year headed into the British Open, but he doesn't have great history at the major. The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland had missed the cut twice and had never finished in the top 10 at the British Open before finishing fifth last year.
Meanwhile, Louis Oosthuizen had to withdraw after just eight holes on Thursday due to the same hip problem that forced him out of the U.S. Open, according to his official statement via International Sports Management.
The 2010 British Open winner has also experienced neck problems this year.
Predictions: I picked Tiger to win this year and certainly won't back down now. I expect McDowell to play better moving forward, but his first round on Thursday was concerning.
Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson
Tee Time: 9:45 a.m. ET
The struggles for Rory McIlroy this year continued on Thursday, as the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland posted an eight-over 79. McIlroy notched six bogeys and two double-bogeys in Round 1. After placing third at the British Open in 2010, McIlroy has placed 25th and 60th in 2011 and 2012, respectively. He could be headed in that direction again this year.
Hideki Matsuyama, who won the 2010 and 2011 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and placed 10th at the U.S. Open this year, posted an even-par 71 on Thursday. This is the 21-year-old's first career appearance at the British Open.
Last but not least, we have Phil Mickelson. After the 43-year-old won the Scottish Open, Lefty notched a two-under 69 on Thursday. He is well within reach of the lead through one round. The four-time major winner, who placed second at the 2011 British Open, is feeling good right now.
Predictions: I wasn't a big fan of McIlroy at the British Open before the first round and I certainly am not now. I don't expect a miraculous comeback from the 2011 U.S. Open champ. Matsuyama should stay around even par for the duration of the tournament. Mickelson surprised me a bit on Thursday considering his struggles historically at the British Open. I could see him playing at the same level moving forward, but I don't see him winning.
Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker
Tee time: 9:12 a.m ET
Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, didn't perform particularly well on Thursday. He notched a four-over 75, registering three bogeys and one double-bogey along the way. Rose is coming off a 13th-place finish at the Travelers Championship.
Two-time British Open champ Ernie Els didn't do too well at the British Open on Thursday, either. He notched a three-over 74 in the first round, complete with three bogeys and one double-bogey (although he did post three birdies).
Brandt Snedeker was the only golfer of the group who played well on Thursday. He notched a three-under 68 in the first round, racking up six birdies on the day. The 32-year-old is coming off an eighth-place finish at AT&T National.
Predictions: Rose had poor history at the British Open before his poor score on Thursday. I can't say I'm surprised by his performance early on. In fact, I'd be surprised if he came roaring back. Els' play was puzzling, considering he has won the British Open twice in his career before this year, including at Muirfield in 2002. I expect him to play better moving forward. Snedeker played solid golf on Thursday and I could see him continuing on that pace.
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