TROON, Scotland (AP) — The Latest on the British Open (all times local):
Phil Mickelson has become the 26th player in major championship history to shoot a 63.
And he had reason to be disappointed.
His 16-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Royal Troon caught the right lip and rode the edge of the cup without dropping. Mickelson stooped over and grabbed his knees in disbelief.
It was the 28th round of 63 in the majors — Greg Norman and Vijay Singh have done it twice — and the ninth at the British Open. As a small consolation, Mickelson has the course record at Royal Troon. And he likely will have the lead.
Americans occupy seven of the top eight spots on the leaderboard at Royal Troon, not surprising because they have won the British Open the last six times on this links.
One name stands out, however.
Phil Mickelson joined Patrick Reed at 5-under par with a long birdie putt on the 10th hole, and he remains bogey-free through 12 holes. Mickelson hasn't won since he captured the claret jug at Muirfield three years ago.
Some of the other Americans: Billy Horschel and Tony Finau both finished at 67 and were one shot behind, along with Justin Thomas and Steve Stricker. And not to be overlooked is Zach Johnson, the defending champion, who was 4 under through 10 holes.
Steve Stricker was nervous when he teed off at Royal Troon, and it showed. He had to scramble for par on the first hole and took bogey on the next hole. But the 49-year-old American settled down and shot 67, one shot off the lead.
So why the nerves? Stricker said maybe it was because it's been a while since he played in a major. This is his first major since the PGA Championship last year, and his first British Open since 2012.
And it might be his last major. He currently is not eligible for the PGA Championship. Stricker says his agent, brother-in-law Mario Tiziani, has been asking him if Stricker wants to request an exemption. Stricker says he won't do it. He wants to earn it.
This is the final event to qualify, and a top 10 might be enough to get in.
Three-quarters of golf's Big Four are back in the clubhouse on the first day at Royal Troon — and Rory McIlroy has fared better than Jordan Spieth and Jason Day.
McIlroy, who won the British Open in 2014 and missed the defense of the claret jug last year because of injury, shot a 2-under 69 and was three strokes off early leader Patrick Reed.
Spieth bogeyed the last hole after an errant tee shot and had an even-par 71, while top-ranked Day shot 73.
The other member of the Big Four is U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who had an afternoon start. He bogeyed the first hole after hitting his driver a long way right.
Americans are impressing once again at a British Open at Royal Troon.
The last six Open champions at Troon have come from the United States, and Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas are extending the country's dominance after shooting the best two early rounds Thursday.
Reed eagled the par-4 third, had three birdies in the following four holes, and picked up another shot at the last for a 5-under 66 and the early clubhouse lead.
Thomas birdied his first four holes and recovered from a double-bogey 6 at No. 15 by also making a birdie at No. 18 for a 67.
Another American, Bubba Watson, was alongside Reed and Thomas atop the leaderboard until he triple-bogeyed No. 8 — the testing par-3 nicknamed the "Postage Stamp" — and then made bogey at Nos. 10 and 11. He is level par through 13 holes.
Rory McIlroy is 4 under through 12 holes on his first round at the British Open since lifting the claret jug in 2014. He missed last year's tournament because of injury.
Louis Oosthuizen has made the first hole-in-one at the British Open.
The 2010 champion from South Africa aced the par-3 No. 14 from 167 yards, his ball pitching in front of the hole and curling into the cup. He threw his arms up in celebration for what was his second hole-in-one at a major this year, after acing the 16th in the final round of the Masters.
With his ball buried and up against the face of a pot bunker, Colin Montgomerie feared the worst after just two shots of his first round at the British Open.
Montgomerie was given the honor of hitting the first tee shot at Royal Troon, his home club, in what likely will be his last Open. It was a proud moment for the 53-year-old Scotsman but things quickly turned sour.
His second shot landed in him in such trouble that it took two shots to get out of the bunker. An up-and-down later, Monty was walking off with a double-bogey 6 from one of the easiest holes at Troon.
No wonder Montgomerie was happy to finish with an even-par 71. He says "I'm very proud of myself for hanging on in there. It would have been easy to score 78 there, simple."
Montgomerie was 3 under for the front nine and 3 over for the back nine.
Colin Montgomerie has started what could be his final British Open with an even-par 71 at Royal Troon.
The 53-year-old Scotsman was given the honor of hitting the opening tee shot at his home club Thursday, and he was greeted with a packed grandstand on a sunny morning.
Montgomerie took a double-bogey at the first hole, but birdied five of the next eight to make the turn with a 3-under 33. He couldn't keep it going, settling for three bogeys on the tougher inward nine to fall off the leaderboard.
Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed are tied for the lead at 4 under.
It's a morning for going low at Royal Troon. Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed are leading the way.
The Americans took advantage of the sunny weather Thursday to shoot 5-under 31 on the front nine at the British Open.
That puts them a couple of strokes ahead of Kevin Chappell and Jimmy Walker.
Given the conditions, it's not surprising there are so many red numbers on the board. But the scores figure to rise during the day as the wind picks up. Also, the front nine at Troon is much easier that than the return leg, so it's imperative to put up a low score early in the round.
Colin Montgomerie found that out. Given the honor of hitting the first stroke of the tournament at his home club, he made the turn with a 3-under 33 even after opening with a double-bogey. Alas, Monty couldn't keep it going. He's back to even par with two holes to play after three bogeys.
Colin Montgomerie has recovered brilliantly from his double bogey to start the British Open.
The 53-year-old Scot, playing in perhaps his last Open, caught a buried lie in pot bunker and began with a double bogey. But the scowl soon turned into a smile when Montgomerie ran off five birdies in seven holes to make the turn at 3-under par.
Justin Thomas made his British Open debut with birdies on his opening three holes and also was at 3 under.
Luke Donald, playing alongside Montgomerie in the first group, was at 2 under.
Most encouraging of all: The lead threesome took just under two hours to complete the front nine.
The Irish Sea was blue from abundant sunshine. The British Open leaderboard already was filled with red scores.
With virtually no wind to start the 145th Open, the gentle outward nine at Royal Troon was living up to its reputation as the time to get birdies. There already were eight birdies in the first 21 holes completed, with Sanghee Lee of South Korea making birdie on the opening two holes.
Colin Montgomerie started with a buried lie in a pot bunker on No. 1 and made double bogey. He might want to heed his own advice. Speaking of how easy the front nine is at Royal Troon, the Scot once famously said if a player is not under par at the turn, he might as well keep walking to Prestwick and have lunch in the clubhouse.
Prestwick, site of the first 12 British Opens, is adjacent to Royal Troon.
The British Open began Thursday with Colin Montgomerie hitting the opening tee shot on the Royal Troon links where his father once was club secretary.
Montgomerie, widely considered the best player to have never won a major, qualified at age 53 for what likely will be his last Open. The R&A chose him to be the first player to hit a shot on a gorgeous morning along the Irish Sea.
There wasn't an empty seat in the grandstand next to the first tee, where the silver claret jug was on a podium. Five dogs were on the beach.
There was no wind, allowing the early starters to take aim at one of the shorter courses on the Open rotation. Montgomerie teed off with Marc Leishman and Luke Donald.