The Open Championship 2013: Defining the Legitimate Contenders After Day 1

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The Open Championship 2013: Defining the Legitimate Contenders After Day 1
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The Open Championship is officially under way at Muirfield in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland. As it presently stands, 26 players are within five strokes of the lead and 20 finished with a score below par.

The question is, who are the legitimate contenders after Day 1 of the British Open?

Certain players started slow and finished strong, thus placing themselves in prime position to make a run at the lead in future rounds. Others failed to blow the viewers away but maintained a consistent enough approach that they're not yet out of contention.

While everyone may be competing, there are only a select few who have proven their legitimacy after one day of action.

 

Zach Johnson

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Front Nine: 31 (-5)

Back Nine: 35 (E)

First Round Score: 66 (-5)

 

During the 2012 Open Championship, Zach Johnson had two brilliant rounds of 65 and 66, respectively. Unfortunately, he also shot 74 and 75 during the other two rounds, thus dropping to No. 9 on the British Open leaderboard.

One year later, Johnson is seeking redemption.

Johnson currently owns the lead at the 2013 British Open, coming in at five under during a round in which he converted one eagle and four birdies to just one bogey, thus displaying how focused he is now when it matters most.

Coming off of a top-10 finish at The Open Championship in 2012, Johnson certainly has the pedigree to pick up his second career major championship.

Johnson started out hot, shooting a 31 on the front nine with three birdies and a momentum-shifting eagle. He proceeded to birdie 12 and strike bogey on 14, but he finished with four consecutive pars to cap off a brilliant round of golf.

Brilliance that Johnson can sustain.

 

Brandt Snedeker

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Front Nine: 36 (E)

Back Nine: 32 (-3)

First Round Score: 68 (-3)

 

Brandt Snedeker finished the 2012 British Open in a tie for third place, matching Tiger Woods at three-under. After two rounds, however, Snedeker was in the lead at 10-under before shooting a combined seven-over during the third and fourth rounds.

During the first round of 2013 British Open, Snedeker got better as time progressed.

Snedeker shot an even 36 on the front nine, splitting three birdies with a bogey and a double bogey. Rather than crumble after consecutive underwhelming holes at 7 and 8, however, Snedeker bounced back to piece together a very strong back nine.

He tallied four birdies on his final nine holes and managed to move to three under at the end of the day.

Snedeker is now two shots off of the lead with complete momentum entering the second round of The Open Championship. While nothing is certain, Snedeker has fared well during his most recent stretches of major championship play.

Perhaps this will be the event in which he finally breaks through.

 

Tiger Woods

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Front Nine: 37 (+1)

Back Nine: 32 (-3)

First Round Score: 69 (-2)

 

Tiger Woods hasn't won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open. He hasn't won the Open Championship since 2006.

Even still, he's the odds-on favorite to win this event—and with good reason.

Woods struggled early, falling victim to two bogeys during the first six holes of action. Even as he began to right the ship, Woods finished the front nine at one-over.

Unlike he's done in recent major events, Woods proceeded to bounce back with a strong back nine.

Woods birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine to work his way back into the hunt for the gold. Even after finding bogey on 14, Woods proceeded to pick up a hole on 17 to move to two under on the day.

Now within three strokes of the lead, Woods is as ready as ever to end his drought.

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