The 150th Open: Rory McIlroy two behind Cameron Young as Tiger Woods struggles at St Andrews
Cameron Young cards two-shot lead at St Andrews after bogey-free 64, with Rory McIlroy two behind and Cameron Smith three back; Tiger Woods battling to make cut after opening-round 78 - Watch day two live on Friday from 6.30am on Sky Sports The Open
By Ali Stafford at St Andrews
Last Updated: 15/07/22 6:23am
Rory McIlroy sits just two shots off the lead after the opening round of The 150th Open, as Tiger Woods struggled on his St Andrews return.
McIlroy, who missed his Open title defence through injury when it was last held on the iconic Old Course in 2015, made an impressive start to his bid for a fifth major title by posting a six-under 66 on Thursday.
The Northern Irishman holed a 55-footer on his opening hole and made three consecutive birdies from the fourth to reach the turn in 32, with McIlroy adding another at the 12th before carding his only bogey of the day at the next when a poor chip ran some 50 yards past the hole.
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McIlroy responded by taking advantage of the par-five next and picking up a shot at the par-four last, with the closing birdie closing the gap on clubhouse leader Cameron Young and seeing him post his lowest first-round score at The Open since he won the event in 2014.
"Yeah, fantastic start," McIlroy said. "Just what you hope will happen when you're starting off your week. I did everything that you're supposed to do around St Andrews. It's another good start at a major, three in a row for me now, and I'm looking forward to the next few days."
Young took advantage of the calmer morning conditions to make the dream start to his Open debut, where he threatened a record-low major round on his way to a bogey-free 64.
The American, who has five top-three finishes on the PGA Tour already this season, carded seven birdies in his opening 12 holes and bounced back from missed opportunities from close range at the 14th and 15th to add another on his final hole.
Cameron Smith sits three strokes back after an opening-round 67 and Viktor Hovland birdied his last three holes to close a four-under 68, with the Norwegian joined four off the pace by the likes of Dustin Johnson and world No 1 Scottie Scheffler.
Amateur Barclay Brown and compatriot Lee Westwood are also four behind, with Xander Schauffele posting a three-under 69 and Ian Poulter carding the same score after holing an incredible 160-foot eagle at the par-four ninth, while the marquee names in the later starters largely struggled to threaten the lead.
Robert Dinwiddie was the pick of the afternoon wave as he posted a five-under 67, with Padraig Harrington carding an opening-round 69 and US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick starting with a level-par 72, while Tiger Woods faces a battle to make the cut after a six-over 78.
Woods' hopes of a fairy-tale success suffered a nightmare start when he found water with his approach into the par-four first and then two-putted from inside five feet for a double-bogey six, with the world No 994 making successive bogeys from the third and double-bogey the seventh.
Back to-back birdies around the turn were undone by three-putt bogeys at the 11th and 13th, with a close-range gain at the par-five 14th cancelled out by a missed par-save at the 16th to leave Woods 14 strokes off the lead.
"Looks like I'm going to have to shoot 66 tomorrow to have a chance," Woods admitted. "So obviously it has been done. Guys did it today. And that's my responsibility tomorrow is to go ahead and do it."
Watch The 150th Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated channel. Live coverage continues on Friday from 6.30am on Sky Sports The Open. Live at The Range, Featured Holes and Featured Groups will be available via the red button on Sky Sports The Open, along with the Sky Sports website and app.