Golf: Danny Lee's opening round to forget at the British Open

Danny Lee of New Zealand plays his shot from the rough on the 4th fairway during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon. Photo / AP
Danny Lee of New Zealand plays his shot from the rough on the 4th fairway during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon. Photo / AP

Kiwis Danny Lee and Steven Alker have struggled in the first round of the British Open at Royal Troon.

One-under after nine holes, Danny Lee blew out to seven-over par with Alker carding a two-over 73.

Lee sits in a tie for 149th with just three golfers sitting behind him on the leaderboard.

Phil Mickelson took early command of the tournament with a spectacular record-equalling first-round 63.

Mickelson - the 2013 Open winner - lipped out for birdie on the final hole just as he seemed poised to record the lowest round in major championship history.

Mickelson's magical eight-under display was still a course record and matched the best-ever score at a major.

The five-times major champion enjoys a three-stroke advantage over countryman Patrick Reed, with fellow Americans Justin Thomas, Steve Stricker, Tony Finau and Billy Horschel among a bunch of players a further shot back.

Englishman Andy Sullivan and Soren Kjeldsen also carded 67s, but the day undoubtedly belonged to Mickelson, who was flawless in his eight-birdie round.

The back nine at Troon is one of the toughest homeward stretches on the Open rota, but the flamboyant left-hander made a mockery of its beastly reputation with just 31 shots after the turn.

Bidding to become the oldest Open winner since Old Tom Morris in 1867, the 46-year-old said only his final-round 66 to seal victory three years ago could top Thursday's effort.

"It was one of the best rounds that I've played," Mickelson said.

"I mean, nothing will match that final round at Muirfield, but it was one of the best rounds I've ever played and I was able to take advantage of these conditions - and yet I want to shed a tear right now.

"That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical.

I knew it, and with a foot to go I thought I had done it.

"I saw that ball rolling right in the centre. I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenaline that I had just shot 62 - and then I had the heartbreak that I didn't and watched that ball lip out.

"It was, wow, that stings."

Reed had birdied the last hole to seize the early clubhouse lead as Americans once again dominate the Open at Troon.

Aided by a hole-out eagle from the third fairway, Reed led for most of the afternoon.

Americans have provided the past six Open winners at Troon, stretching back to Arnold Palmer in 1962 and are once again threatening to continue the 54-year streak.

Mickelson's brilliance has left Jason Day facing a mountain to climb to work his way back into the tournament after Australia's world No.1 disappointed with a two-over 73.

Danny Lee's back nine to forget

10th - Bogey
11th - Double bogey
12th - Par
13th - Bogey
14th - Par
15th - Bogey
16th - Par
17th - Bogey
18th - Bogey

1 - Phil Mickelson -8 (63)
T2 - Patrick Reed -5 (66)
T2 - Zach Johnson -5 (through 14)
T4 - Justin Thomas -4 (67)
T4 - Steve Stricker -4 (67)
T4 - Billy Horsechel -4 (67)
T4 - Tony Finau -4 (67)
T4 - Martin Kaymer -4 (67)

T18 Rickie Fowler -2 (69)
T18 Rory McIlroy -2 (69)
T18 Sergio Garcia -2 (69)
T38 Dustin Johnson -1 ( through 15)
T60 Jordan Spieth E (71)
T99 Jason Day +2 (73)
T99 Steven Alker +2 (73)
T149 Danny Lee +7 (78)

- Radio Sport

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