Tommy Fleetwood rode a wave of home support to the top of the leaderboard on day one of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Roared on by a partisan crowd, the 32-year-old from Southport carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in an opening 66 to share the clubhouse lead with South African amateur Christo Lamprecht on five under par.
Former champion Stewart Cink, who denied 59-year-old Tom Watson a fairytale victory at Turnberry in 2009, rolled back the years himself with a flawless 68 matched by US Open champion Wyndham Clark, with Jordan Spieth and club member Matthew Jordan round in 69.
Fleetwood revelled in the support of the large galleries as he bids to win his first major title in memory of his late mother Sue, who died on July 21 last year.
“It really was a great day,” Fleetwood said. “It’s always very nerve-wracking playing in front of your home crowd in such a big event, but I got off to a decent start.
“I was actually happy to have to get up and down on the first, holing a putt really settled me down and to get that going on the back nine was really, really cool. To get that support all day was amazing.
“If you’re not going to enjoy this atmosphere and these experiences then what’s the point? Make sure you have the time of your life out there.
“Being this close to home is the coolest thing and I’m so grateful to everyone that cheers me on.”
Lamprecht had set the early target thanks to a round containing seven birdies and two bogeys, the 6ft 8in 22-year-old having qualified by winning the Amateur Championship at nearby Hillside a month ago.
Aided by playing alongside mentor Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 winner, Lamprecht carded the lowest round by an amateur in any major since England’s Tom Lewis shot 65 at Royal St George’s in 2011.
“I’d probably say the first tee shot was the only bit of nerves I had all day,” Lamprecht said.
“I just kind of walked off the first tee box after hitting my snap hook drive, and my caddie just told me, ‘listen, you’re playing The Open as an amateur, no need to stress’. We kind of had fun from there.
“It’s pretty surreal to be leading. [But] I think I earned my spot to be here. I think the way I played today I earned to be on the top of the leaderboard, as of now.
“It’s not a cocky thing to say. I just personally think I believe in myself, and I guess stepping on to the first tee box if you’re a professional or a competitor, you should be believing that you should be the best standing there.”
Jordan struck the opening tee shot at 6.35am, but the early start did not prevent him attracting plenty of support from fellow Royal Liverpool members, friends and family.
“Amazing. I’m kind of running out of words to describe it,” Jordan said of the reception he received. “It was crazy, mental, loud – everything that I could have wished for.
“I’m certainly trying to think of a better experience than that, and I don’t think I can.”
The controversial new 17th hole claimed its first victim with Lucas Herbert, joint-leader at the time on three under, making a triple-bogey at the 126-yard par three.
Herbert missed the green to the left, chipped across the putting surface into a bunker, left his next in the sand and eventually finished with a six.