The Open – English trio leading the chase to end long Open wait

Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood led the Royal Portrush charge for a first English winner at The Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 12:02 am
Updated Friday, 19th July 2019, 1:02 am
England's Lee Westwood celebrates with his girlfriend and caddie Helen Storey after his birdie on the 18th at Royal Portrush. Picture: David Davies/PA/TheOpen.com

They all posted a three-under 68 to peg a crucial foothold after a hectic first day in Northern Ireland.

While Hatton was happy to nudge closer towards a feel-good factor after a post-Ryder Cup slump, Fleetwood revealed the secret to his bogey-free round was easing the self-imposed stress.

“It’s been a bit of a come-down after the Ryder Cup and it’s fair to say that I have struggled this year,” said Hatton, who starred in Europe’s victory over the USA in Paris in September 2018.

England's Justin Rose tees off the fifth tee during day one at Royal Portrush. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

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“But my game feels in a good place, and hopefully I can keep playing well and that will lift my spirits.

“It’s pretty special, this is my eighth Open so I’ve got a bit of experience there. The crowds here are great.”

Fleetwood eased around Northern Ireland’s testing north coast course, completing a serene and error-free round where others battled through wind, rain and personal frustrations. The 28-year-old admitted he shook off the personal pressure to avoid dropping any shots, in a very tidy first-round performance.

“Any time you’re going to go bogey free at a major, take it and run,” said Fleetwood.

“I played really consistently, so I’m just happy with that.

“I conducted the round very well today so I’m pleased. I hit it well, I was very consistent, I was always in play, pretty much. And that’s obviously vital.

The 46-year-old Westwood, playing in his 25th consecutive Open, has had one runners-up finish, two thirds and a fourth but has not finished in the top 20 in his last five outings at the event.

“It was nice to shoot a low score the first round of the tournament and get right in there. You just take it one day at a time, obviously,” he said.

“I’ve seen all this before. I’m just out there enjoying myself.”

Justin Rose kept himself in the hunt for glory with a steady two under, along with Ashton Turner.

“Today was a good day of links golf,” said Rose. “For me the wind today was a perfect amount on a links course.”