British Open scores 2014: Rory McIlroy leads, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott near top of leaderboard

Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

It was just one round, but if Thursday is any indication, the British Open leaderboard could be a star-studded affair this year.

With fairly lackluster play from the biggest stars, the story following the first round of the U.S. Open in June was the course. That couldn't be further from the case at Royal Liverpool where more than half-a-dozen of the biggest names in golf are either at or near the top of the leaderboard following the first round. That includes first-round leader Rory McIlroy and yes, Tiger Woods is in the mix too.

When the day began, Woods was the biggest story. He was playing in his first major championship in 11 months and just his second event since having back surgery in March. There were questions about his his physical health, his golf form and even whether he still had the game to compete for major championships. He still has a long way to go to quiet all of those concerns, but he took a very strong first step to doing so on Thursday.

Woods opened his round with back-to-back bogeys and looked anything but sharp. He hit a poor approach, a poor chip and putted poorly on his way to a 2-over through two beginning. A few more bogeys and Woods might have dug himself a hole he couldn't get out of. He rebounded, however, before that could happen and reeled off six pars and a birdie to make the turn at 1-over.

The back nine at Hoylake has more birdie opportunities and Woods took full advantage. With a suddenly hot putter and a stronger short game, Woods ripped off three straight birdies from No. 11 to No. 13 and moves to 2-under. Even after giving a shot back on the very difficult No. 14, Woods added two more birdies at No. 15 and No. 16. Although he missed a chance to pickup another shot at the par-5 18th, his 3-under round of 69 was more than solid. It was a strong step toward regaining his previous form and good enough to have him in contention heading into Friday. He'll open the second round tied for 10th place.

Woods and the rest of the field will be looking up at Rory McIlroy when the second round begins. McIlroy doesn't have the best history of success at the British Open, but you'd never know it from the way he played Thursday. He arguably hits the ball as high as anyone in the world, a trait that often isn't to his advantage in the Open. With more receptive greens and calm wind on Thursday, McIlroy used his ball flight to his advantage and attacked pins (via @Adam Sarson)

Rory_medium

He was aggressive off the tee and still managed to hit 9-of-14 fairways. By finding fairways and bombing the ball an average of 340.5 yards off the tee, McIlroy often put himself in position to attack. He hit 14-of-18 greens in regulation, finished with 27 putts and didn't drop a shot all day. McIlroy has started well in an Open before only to falter and will need to get over his weird Friday issues, which he said earlier this week are in his head.. Still, his opening round was about as good as it gets and has him in prime position at 6-under.

Like so often happens, the course became more difficult as the day went along. While red numbers were plentiful at times during the morning wave, the afternoon wave had a tougher go of it.

That doesn't mean low scores weren't still out there. Adam Scott played in the afternoon and managed a 4-under round of 68. Maybe the best sign of the day for Scott was his steady putter. He rolled in multiple long putts, including a very long, breaking putt for eagle at No. 5. Few players are better from tee-to-green than Scott. His putting will sometimes let him down, but if he rolls it the rest of the week like he did on Thursday, he should be the favorite to win the Claret Jug. Scott, Woods and McIlroy are joined by a handful of other big names near the top of the leaderboard. That includes Jim Furyk at 4-under, Sergio Garcia at 4-under, Rickie Fowler at 3-under, Jason Dufner at 2-under and Jordan Spieth at 1-under.

Defending British Open champion Phil Mickelson didn't get his championship defense off to a great start. He battled through the tough afternoon conditions and struggled to make birdies. He still had a chance to come in at even with a birdie on No. 18, but his second shot found the internal out of bounds to the right.

He did an excellent job to scramble for a bogey and finish at 2-over.

Like Mickelson, Bubba Watson had some issues playing in the afternoon. He made the turn at 1-under, only to run into serious trouble on the back nine. Although the back includes three of the four easiest holes on the course, you'd never know it from the way Watson played it. The reigning Masters champion carded a triple bogey on No. 11 and followed it up with back-to-back bogeys on No. 12 and No. 13. He capped the round with a final bogey at No. 18 to shoot a 42 on the back nine and finish with a 4-over 76.

Here's where the field stands after 18 holes at Royal Liverpool:

Place

Player

Score

1st Round

1

Rory McIlroy

-6

66

2

Matteo Manassero

-5

67

T3

Edoardo Molinari

-4

68

T3

Brooks Koepka

-4

68

T3

Francesco Molinari

-4

68

T3

Jim Furyk

-4

68

T3

Sergio Garcia

-4

68

T3

Adam Scott

-4

68

T3

Shane Lowry

-4

68

T10

Robert Karlsson

-3

69

T10

Marc Leishman

-3

69

T10

Koumei Oda

-3

69

T10

Rickie Fowler

-3

69

T10

Hideki Matsuyama

-3

69

T10

Jimmy Walker

-3

69

T10

Yoshinobu Tsukada

-3

69

T10

Tiger Woods

-3

69

T10

Boo Weekley

-3

69

T19

Jason Dufner

-2

70

T19

Freddie Jacobson

-2

70

T19

Ashley Chesters

-2

70

T19

Ryan Moore

-2

70

T19

Mikko Ilonen

-2

70

T19

Thomas Bjorn

-2

70

T19

Louis Oosthuizen

-2

70

T19

Stephen Gallacher

-2

70

T19

David Hearn

-2

70

T19

Kristoffer Broberg

-2

70

T19

Hiroshi Iwata

-2

70

T19

Bill Haas

-2

70

T19

George Coetzee

-2

70

T19

Rafael Cabrera Bello

-2

70

T33

John Senden

-1

71

T33

Lee Westwood

-1

71

T33

Chris Kirk

-1

71

T33

Stewart Cink

-1

71

T33

Charl Schwartzel

-1

71

T33

Hunter Mahan

-1

71

T33

Dawie Van Der Walt

-1

71

T33

Matt Jones

-1

71

T33

Erik Compton

-1

71

T33

Ben Martin

-1

71

T33

Branden Grace

-1

71

T33

Jordan Spieth

-1

71

T33

Dustin Johnson

-1

71

T33

Marc Warren

-1

71

T33

Graham Delaet

-1

71

T33

Zach Johnson

-1

71

T49

Oliver Fisher

E

72

T49

Justin Rose

E

72

T49

Kevin Streelman

E

72

T49

David Howell

E

72

T49

Bernd Wiesberger

E

72

T49

Hyung-Sung Kim

E

72

T49

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

E

72

T49

Darren Clarke

E

72

T49

Harris English

E

72

T49

Rhein Gibson

E

72

T49

Brian Harman

E

72

T49

Henrik Stenson

E

72

T49

K.J. Choi

E

72

T49

Thongchai Jaidee

E

72

T49

Nick Watney

E

72

T49

Yusaku Miyazato

E

72

T49

Byeong-Hun An

E

72

T66

Rhys Enoch

1

73

T66

Keegan Bradley

1

73

T66

Martin Kaymer

1

73

T66

Shawn Stefani

1

73

T66

Tom Watson

1

73

T66

Luke Donald

1

73

T66

Ian Poulter

1

73

T66

Oscar Floren

1

73

T66

Jamie McLeary

1

73

T66

Brendon Todd

1

73

T66

Jason Day

1

73

T66

Kevin Stadler

1

73

T66

David Duval

1

73

T66

Matt Kuchar

1

73

T66

Billy Horschel

1

73

T66

Chris Rodgers

1

73

T66

Richard Sterne

1

73

T66

Billy Hurley III

1

73

T84

Tommy Fleetwood

2

74

T84

Gonzalo Fdez-Castano

2

74

T84

Phil Mickelson

2

74

T84

Brandt Snedeker

2

74

T84

J.B. Holmes

2

74

T84

Charley Hoffman

2

74

T84

Cheng Tsung Pan

2

74

T84

Roberto Castro

2

74

T84

Cameron Tringale

2

74

T84

Justin Leonard

2

74

T84

Ben Curtis

2

74

T84

Paul Casey

2

74

T84

Padraig Harrington

2

74

T84

Graeme McDowell

2

74

T84

Victor Dubuisson

2

74

T84

Ryan Palmer

2

74

T84

Victor Riu

2

74

T84

Brendan Steele

2

74

T84

Danny Willett

2

74

T84

Ryo Ishikawa

2

74

T84

Ross Fisher

2

74

T105

Paul Dunne

3

75

T105

Gregory Bourdy

3

75

T105

Russell Henley

3

75

T105

Gary Woodland

3

75

T105

Jonas Blixt

3

75

T105

Miguel Jimenez

3

75

T105

Michael Hoey

3

75

T105

Chris Wood

3

75

T105

Anirban Lahiri

3

75

T105

Thorbjorn Olesen

3

75

T105

Matt Every

3

75

T105

Brett Rumford

3

75

T105

Hyung-Tae Kim

3

75

T105

Y.E. Yang

3

75

T105

D.A. Points

3

75

T105

Tyrrell Hatton

3

75

T105

Pablo Larrazabal

3

75

T105

Scott Stallings

3

75

T105

A-Shun Wu

3

75

T124

Matthew Baldwin

4

76

T124

Bubba Watson

4

76

T124

Webb Simpson

4

76

T124

Angel Cabrera

4

76

T124

Nick Faldo

4

76

T124

Juvic Pagunsan

4

76

T124

Paul McKechnie

4

76

T124

Tomohiro Kondo

4

76

T124

Kevin Na

4

76

T124

George McNeill

4

76

T134

Jin Jeong

5

77

T134

John Daly

5

77

T134

Peter Uihlein

5

77

T134

Todd Hamilton

5

77

T134

Justin Walters

5

77

T134

Scott Jamieson

5

77

T140

Brendon de Jonge

6

78

T140

Dong-Kyu Jang

6

78

T140

Masanori Kobayashi

6

78

T140

Patrick Reed

6

78

T140

John Singleton

6

78

T145

Chesson Hadley

7

79

T145

Chris Stroud

7

79

T145

Mark Wiebe

7

79

T145

Jamie Donaldson

7

79

T145

Paul Lawrie

7

79

T145

Bradley Neil

7

79

T145

Ernie Els

7

79

152

Matthew Southgate

8

80

T153

Joost Luiten

9

81

T153

Chris Hanson

9

81

155

Sandy Lyle

10

82

156

Bryden Macpherson

18

90

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