Eleven years after winning The Open Championship, Louis Oosthuizen is in the driver's seat to do it again.
The 38-year-old took a first-round lead with a six-under-par 64 at Royal St. George's Golf Club on Thursday.
Oosthuizen was far from the only player who got off to a strong start. Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman are tied for second place at five under. A group of five players are tied in fourth place.
Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood are among 10 players at three under.
2021 Open Championship Leaderboard - First Round
1. Louis Oosthuizen (-6)
T2. Brian Harman (-5)
T2. Jordan Spieth (-5)
T4. Mackenzie Hughes (-4)
T4. Dylan Frittelli (-4)
T4. Stewart Cink (-4)
T4. Benjamin Hebert (-4)
T4. Webb Simpson (-4)
T9. Tommy Fleetwood (-3)
T9. Collin Morikawa (-3)
T9. Andy Sullivan (-3)
T9. Justin Harding (-3)
T9. Danny Willett (-3)
T9. Jack Senior (-3)
T9. Justin Rose (-3)
T9. Scottie Scheffler (-3)
T9. Byeong Hun An (-3)
T9. Marcel Siem (-3)
Full leaderboard via TheOpen.com
Oosthuizen has yet to win a tournament this year, but he's been on the verge of a breakthrough for some time. The South African tied for second at the PGA Championship in May and was the sole runner-up at the U.S. Open last month.
To post the best round of the day, Oosthuizen did all of his damage in an eight-hole span from Nos. 8-16. He made six birdies during that stretch and didn't have a bogey in the entire round.
The Open @TheOpen
A superb 64 for the Champion Golfer of 2010, <a href="https://twitter.com/Louis57TM?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Louis57TM</a> 👏<br><br>See if anyone can catch Louis on our live blog 👉<a href="https://t.co/xYY44zj43t">https://t.co/xYY44zj43t</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/e2sHYbsXMp">pic.twitter.com/e2sHYbsXMp</a>
Spieth wasn't as sharp to start the day. He was at one over thanks to a bogey on the par-three third hole.
From that point on, though, the Dallas native put together one of his most impressive rounds of the year. He had a run of four consecutive birdies from holes five through eight that dropped his score to three under when he made the turn.
Spieth's birdie on No. 16 briefly gave him sole possession of the lead at five under until Oosthuizen passed him later.
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<a href="https://twitter.com/JordanSpieth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JordanSpieth</a>'s putter has been red hot today🔥<br><br>Follow the action 👉 <a href="https://t.co/xYY44zAFs3">https://t.co/xYY44zAFs3</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/oRzreusnBA">pic.twitter.com/oRzreusnBA</a>
Thursday's 65 marked Spieth's best score in a round since the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. He led that event after 54 holes, but a 73 in the final round opened the door for Jason Kokrak to win the tournament.
Spieth hasn't finished in the top 10 at The Open Championship since 2018. His last victory in a Grand Slam event was the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in England.
PGA TOUR Communications @PGATOURComms
Jordan Spieth recorded his third career first-round score of 65 or better in a major championship and won both of the previous instances:<br><br>65, 2021 Open Championship<br>65, 2017 Open Championship<br>64, 2015 Masters Tournament <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheOpen</a>
Further down the leaderboard, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among the notable players in contention. They are among a 13-way tie for 19th place at two-under par.
Johnson did stumble late on the front nine with bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9. He rebounded after making the turn thanks to birdies on 11 and 14 that kept him well within shouting distance of Oosthuizen.
Another player who struggled on the front nine was Rory McIlroy. The 2014 Open Championship winner looked to be in serious trouble after putting up three consecutive bogeys and made the turn at one over.
McIlroy moved to two over with a bogey on No. 11 before getting birdies on 14 and 18 to salvage an even-par 70.
Phil Mickelson's quest to win his second major tournament of the year seems unlikely to happen. He finished the day tied with Deyen Lawson for last place at 10-over par overall.
Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend, the only player to win The Open Championship since 2017 who was outside of the top three in the standings after the first round was Francesco Molinari in 2018.