The 2014 British Open from Royal Liverpool Golf Club kicked off on Thursday with the first round of the tournament, and golf fans from around the world have turned their attention to the leaderboard.
While many big names like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy played strong through the start of their respective rounds, there were several unheralded stars who put up amazing scores and started the tournament on the right foot.
Here are the latest scores and standings from Day 1 as well as a spotlight on the player with the most upside.
Player to Watch: Rickie Fowler
One of the top stars coming into the tournament was American Rickie Fowler, and he lived up to the expectations on Day 1 by shooting an impressive 69 and finishing the first round at three under par.
Fowler was a betting long shot at 33-1 odds (via OddsShark.com) but has performed well thus far during the 2014 season.
After finishing fifth at the 2014 Masters tournament, Fowler turned his focus to the U.S. Open, and he responded with an outstanding second-place finish in that major. In his two biggest events this season, the California native has proved his composure and consistency.
Mike Johnson of Golf World talked about the expectations coming into the event for Fowler and how he has lived up to them early:
Rickie Fowler was a trendy pick after a T-5 at the Masters and a T-2 at the U.S. Open. Front-nine 32 validates the confidence. #stillearly— Mike Johnson (@EMichaelGW) July 17, 2014
Add in his love of links golf, and there is no doubt Fowler will be a favorite all week.
When asked about playing links golf, Fowler told John Huggan of Golf Digest about his play following his eighth-place finish at the Scottish Open leading into this weeks' tournament:
I just love links golf, especially hitting shots back into the wind. Downwind is fun, but playing the opposite way is better. You have to hit the ball in the middle of face and control the flight of the ball. That’s not quite the norm on tour. We play in windy conditions obviously - and the greens are firm on the PGA Tour - but the air over here is heavier and affects the ball a lot more. I don’t know if that adds up to a harder question than we see most weeks, but I enjoy the challenge of it. I’ll definitely be back for more.
The key to playing at the Open Championship is minimizing the damage when the inevitable missed shot occurs. Fowler hit the bunker on the 17th hole and had a terrible lie, but Conor McNamara of BBC pointed out that he played the shot perfectly:
Fowler found himself three under par through the first nine holes but had his struggles on the back nine as the wind began to pick up. While he was able to birdie two holes on the back nine, he also ran into two bogeys.
Struggles are inevitable at a tournament as difficult as the British Open, but the key will be minimizing the damage that poor shots can cause. Fowler is talented using his irons and his putter, and he must do a better job avoiding the nasty rough around the course.
Day 1 could have been even better, but the confidence gained from an exceptional opening round has put Fowler in a position to make the cut and contend for the Claret Jug over the course of the weekend.
Predicted Finish: 2014 British Open Champion
*Stats via PGATour.com.