Debutant Manley takes lead, Poulter goes strong

Stuart Manley (AFP)
Stuart Manley (AFP)

Southport - Welshman Stuart Manley produced a flying finish to his round to take the clubhouse lead early on the opening day of the British Open at Royal Birkdale on Thursday. 

Manley was one over par before an eagle at the par-5 17th, the longest hole on the course, and then a birdie at the last saw him shoot a two-under-par 68. 

The 38-year-old is making his debut at a major championship having qualified courtesy of a second-place finish at the Johannesburg Open at the beginning of the year. 

Out on the course, Ian Poulter was two-under after 13 holes having managed three birdies along with a bogey on the front nine. 

The Englishman came through qualifying to secure a place in the championship at the venue where he finished runner-up to Padraig Harrington in 2008. 

That remains his best performance at a major. 

Justin Rose, the top-ranked Englishman in the field at 12 in the world, was also two-under before a wayward drive at the sixth, the toughest hole on the course, put him in trouble. A bogey saw him drop back to one-under. 

Rose had started with a birdie at the first but many other players came a cropper at the opening hole in the wet and chilly weather that greeted daybreak in north-west England. 

Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Open champion at Birkdale, had the honour of hitting the first tee shot at 08:35 but his drive went out of bounds to the right. 

After needing three off the tee, he ended up with an ugly quadruple-bogey eight and he eventually signed off for an 11-over-par opening round of 81. 

Among others struggling at the first, a tough par-4 playing 435 yards in the opening round, were South Korea's KT Kim and American duo Maverick McNealy, the amateur, and Bryson DeChambeau. They all shot triple-bogey sevens.

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