Defending Champ Johnson Tied for 4th at Open

Phil Mickelson was the toast of Troon on Thursday, but he wasn’t the only player to have a dynamite first round of the 145th Open Championship.

Fifty players were at least one stroke under par, among them defending champion Zach Johnson, who is tied for fourth with a 4-under 67.  Johnson was brilliant through 16 holes, but game away two strokes with bogeys on 17 and 18 to fall from a three-way tie for second to a eight-way glut for fourth.

Johnson was tied for second after a 6-under 66 last year en route to the title. The defending champion wasn’t even the most followed Johnson on Thursday, that honor went to fellow American Dustin Johnson, who won the US Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational back to back to rise to No. 2 in the world.

Dustin Johnson shot a ho-hum even par 71, bogeying No. 1 and 16, birdying 6 and 7. He was the leader after a round a year ago, blazing to a 7-under on that Thursday, and was the leader through 36 before bombing out with a 75 on Saturday

Dustin Johnson’s even par tied him with 24 other men, including No. 3 Jordan Spieth. Spieth was a crisp 2-under through six holes, then gave the shots back with bogeys on 9 and 11.

Masters champion and current Race to Dubai leader Danny Willett also shot a 71.

World No. 4 Rory McIlroy, the 2014 champion, is tied for 22nd with a 2-under 69. McIlory was matching Mickelson early on, at 4-under at the turn, but staggered on 13 and 14 with a double bogey and a bogey to give away three strokes. He recovered with a birdie on 15 to sit tied with the likes of Rickie Fowler and the ageless Vijay Singh

Patrick Reed (-5) actually played better than Mickelson on the front nine, with an eagle on 3 and birdies on 4, 6, and 7 to turn in a 31 on the front nine, but he had two bogeys on the back nine to curb his drive. Like Mickelson, Martin Kaymer (-5) shot a bogey-free first round.

World No. 1 Jason Day finds himself tied for 94th after recording a 2-over 73. Day recorded three bogeys in a five-hole stretch between No. 5 and No. 9, and added another bogey on 18. Day has 12 Top 10 Major finishes in his career, but only one at the Open Championship – last year’s tie for fourth. He was in pursuit of a sixth straight Top 10 finish at a Major.

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