The Open: Top players queue up for false start

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OPEN contenders can’t say they weren’t warned about the booby trap awaiting them at the start of this year’s event.

When the dust finally settled, the 156-strong field were exactly 89 over par for the opening hole, with 11 birdies to be set against a total of 100 dropped shots.

Stretching 447 yards, the first at Muirfield is described in the official programme as “arguably the toughest opening hole on any of the Scottish Championship courses on the Open rota and even harder with the addition of a new bunker”.

From the outset, it seemed they were queuing up to give veracity to that claim.

Lloyd Saltman’s two balls out of bounds inevitably attracted attention, but his playing partner in the dawn patrol group, Peter Senior, recorded a six.

Major winners who dropped single shots included Ernie Els, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo. Even bookies’ favourite Tiger Woods had to take a penalty drop to hack his way out of the rough on his way to a bogey. Among those taking half a dozen were former champion Paul Lawrie and Australia’s Jason Day.

The tournament will ultimately be won on the 72nd hole, but for some, it may have been lost as early as the first.