Some of the European Tour's finest are on display at the Old Course at St. Andrews this week, and the first round of the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was indicative of that fact.
Twenty golfers are within three shots of each other after Thursday's opening round, a group paced by five golfers who finished with an eight-under 64 on the afternoon. SuperSport noted as much on Twitter:
Five players are tied at 8-under after carding opening rounds of 64 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. #SSGolf— SuperSport Blitz (@SuperSportBlitz) September 26, 2013
Mark Tullo, one of those five men, was all smiles as he handed in his impressive scorecard after the round:
Alexandre Kaleka, Oliver Wilson, Tom Lewis and Richard McEvoy are the golfers atop the leaderboard heading into Friday.
Those within striking distance include Jamie Donaldson, David Horsey and former American collegiate standouts Brandon Stone (Texas) and Justin Thomas (Alabama).
Here's a more complete look at the leaderboard, courtesy of EuropeanTour.com.
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As Craig Boath—head greenkeeper at Carnoustie Golf Links—showed us on Twitter, it was a beautiful day for golf in Scotland:
Great day, getting course ready for Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie. Greens cutters love a bit of dew pic.twitter.com/OKCyMk5LvU— Craig Boath (@CraigBoath) September 23, 2013
European Tour's Nigel Tilley had another majestic photo for those not fortunate enough to make it to the "home of golf" this week:
On the course, birdies were dropping left and right.
A staggering 105 players finished under par during the opening round, led by the gaggle at the top of the leaderboard. Notables in that category include Joost Luiten (-5), Charl Schwartzel (-4), Shane Lowry (-4), Darren Clarke (-3), Ernie Els (-3), Martin Kaymer (-3) and Branden Grace (-2).
Kaymer, who called St. Andrews his favorite golf course in the world prior to Round 1, played like it on Thursday. He dropped six birdies against three bogeys in the round, and is certainly within striking distance of the leaders the way the course is playing right now:
Needless to say, it's still very much anyone's tournament heading into Friday.
Which current leader will finish the highest on Sunday?
That statement holds true for the unfortunate few who finished below the Mendoza line on Thursday, including three golfers—Richard Sterne, Brett Rumford and Stephen Gallacher—who are currently in the top 15 in the Race to Dubai.
Sterne (E) and Rumford (+1) are certainly in position to make the cut by emulating the strong performances put in by the leaders, but Gallacher (+6) is in grave danger of going home early after turning in a scorecard with five bogeys and a double-bogey on Thursday.
St. Andrews is a special golf course, and it's the perfect place for European Tour professionals to spend four days playing the game they love. With the potential for high-scoring golf and the prestige of the setting in the backdrop, this tournament should only get better by Sunday.
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