The first day of action is officially in the books at the 2013 British Open, as Zach Johnson set the standard with an opening-round 66 to take the lead at five-under par. With countless golfers coming in close behind him, however, nothing is certain at this point.
The question is, who do the odds favor and which players should you stay away from following Day 1?
Johnson may own the lead, but there are 26 golfers within five strokes of the lead after one day of action. Twenty of those players finished under par, with seven two strokes or less behind Johnson, thus displaying one ever-important fact.
This event is as wide open as it possibly could be.
The Leader: Zach Johnson (-5) at 9-1 odds to win (via Bovada)
Zach Johnson not only set the pace for the event, he started out hot and didn't cool down. Well, if one bogey all day constitutes as slowing down, then I suppose we could fault him for faltering on 14.
Otherwise, we'd be wise to acknowledge Johnson as the dominant force in this tournament.
Johnson tallied three birdies and an eagle on his first seven holes, also striking birdie on 12. Even with his bogey on 14, Johnson managed to earn a one-stroke lead over Mark O'Meara and Rafael Cabrera Bello.
The question is, can he maintain this level of play?
Zach Johnson leads the Open Championship at -5 after the 1st Round; he was also -5 in last year's 1st Round before finishing tied for 9th— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2013
Something tells me Johnson will not make the same mistakes twice.
There's no telling whether or not Johnson will hold on to win, but the odds are certainly in his favor. Somehow, his owning the lead has him in third behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in terms of being the odds-on favorite.
Leading a tournament with your back against the wall certainly seems like an ideal situation to be in.
The Favorite: Tiger Woods (-2) at 7-2 odds to win (via Bovada)
Tiger Woods started slow and responded well, which is an encouraging sign for future rounds. After sitting at one-over par after the front nine, Woods proceeded to move under par and come within three strokes of the lead.
Four birdies on the final nine holes, including one at 17, is a great way to create momentum.
According to Bovada, Woods remains the odds-on favorite at 7-2 to win the 2013 British Open. While he may be viewed as the best player in the world, there is something else worth noting.
Woods is a full three strokes off of the lead, and placing your money on him to win would be less rewarding than other options.
With that being said, Woods is long overdue to win a major championship and he has won the British Open three separate times. If anyone can break through and catch Johnson, it would be the greatest golfer of our generation.
If he does fail to win, it will defy the odds.
The Sentimental Pick: Mark O'Meara (-4) at 75-1 odds to win (via Bovada)
In 1998, Mark O'Meara won one of the most dramatic British Open tournaments in PGA Tour history. He defeated Brian Watts in a heated four-hole playoff, thus earning his second major championship of the year.
Fifteen years later, the 56-year-old is at it again.
O'Meara shot an opening-round 67, pulling into a tie with Rafael Cabrera Bello for second place overall. This comes after he birdied five of the first nine holes and struck bogey on three of the final nine.
Some would say that his eagle on 17 offset all woes and put him back on the track to success.
"I was trying to two-putt but it just kept going" - Mark O'Meara on the eagle putt he made at the 17th in round one of @The_Open— Champions Tour (@ChampionsTour) July 18, 2013
As a former winner, there's certainly reason to believe in O'Meara's ability to strike gold once again.
He's not a favorite to win, but as a poised figure with just one stroke between him and the lead, O'Meara is worth your money at 75-1. Those odds suggest that he stands no chance, but in reality, O'Meara is as close to winning big as anyone.
If you're looking for a pick to feel good about, this is the one.
The Dark Horse: Brandt Snedeker (-3) at 14-1 odds to win (via Bovada)
On the front nine, Brandt Snedeker nearly saw his British Open title dreams wither away. After making birdie on two of his first five holes, Snedeker followed a double bogey with yet another bogey to drop to one over par.
And then he was masterful.
Snedeker picked up four birdies and no bogeys during his final 10 holes. This mental fortitude was beyond encouraging, as he avoided a potential disaster to move into third place on the leaderboard.
Just two strokes behind Johnson for the lead, there's no reason to write Snedeker off just yet.
After a history of struggling at the event, Snedeker finished in third at the 2012 British Open. While his general past may be concerning, Snedeker has been hot as of late and is proving to have matured enough on the golf course to fight off rough patches of play.
If you're looking for a dark horse to put your money on, Snedeker may just be that guy.
The Untouchable: Rory McIlroy (+7) at 750-1 odds to win (via Bovada)
What in the world happened to Rory McIlroy?
McIlroy is one of the world's greatest golfers, already owning two major championship victories at the age of 24. During the 2013 season, however, McIlroy has looked like less than a shell of himself.
During the first round of The Open Championship, he hit his lowest point yet.
Rory McIlroy: 8-over 79 today worst-ever opening round at a major. McIlroy is now a combined 24-over par in majors this year #chopchop— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) July 18, 2013
Will the real Rory McIlroy please stand up?
All is not lost for McIlroy, as he finished third at the 2010 British Open after shooting a second-round 80. After shooting an opening-round 78 in 2013, McIlroy will certainly need a masterful performance to simply make the cut.
At this point, betting on McIlroy doing anything positive would be ill-advised.
According to Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post, McIlroy isn't just physically struggling, but mentally he's facing challenges as well. Not only are his shots out of control, but McIlroy is struggling to make sense of what's happening out there.
It's as if he's "asleep."
“Sometimes I feel like I’m walking around out there, and I’m unconscious,” McIlroy said Thursday in the moments after his first round of the British Open. “I just need to try to think more. I’m trying to focus and trying to concentrate. But yeah, I can’t really fathom it at the minute, and it’s hard to stand up here and tell you guys what’s really wrong.”
When a golfer is this down on himself, you stay away.