The Latest: Noren shows a birdie can be made at No. 1

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) The Latest on the British Open (all times local):

9:15 a.m.

Royal Birkdale has traditionally been one of the toughest courses in the British Open rotation.

And it is living up to its reputation early in the first round of the 146th version of the major championship.

With the first wave of players making the turn, there were few red numbers on the board. Only two players were under par, led by Ian Poulter at 2 under through five holes.

The good news is the weather - rainy and breezy in the morning - is expected to get better as the day goes on. That should favor players with later tee times on the course on the coast of northwest England.


8:15 a.m.

Alex Noren has birdied the first hole at Royal Birkdale in the British Open.

Yes, that's big news.

Already one of the toughest opening holes on Open courses, a strong breeze off the Irish Sea and a light rain made the 448-yard hole even more of a beast Thursday morning. Mark O'Meara had to hit two tee shots because the first one went into the gorse. He made an 8. Bryson DeChambeau also hit into the gorse. He made a 7.

It was a feat just to hit the green in regulation, so consolation prizes to Paul Broadhurst, Ian Poulter and Russell Knox.

As the rain and wind eased, Noren hit his approach into 5 feet and hole the putt for a 3. That's something 26 players before him couldn't do.


7 a.m.

Mark O'Meara was supposed to hit the first tee shot to start the 146th British Open. He wound up hitting two of them.

The British Open began Thursday morning with rain, wind and big numbers. O'Meara's opening drive on the notoriously tough first hole at Royal Birkdale rode the wind into the gorse bushes on the right. He hit another tee shot, this one into a bunker on the left.

O'Meara, who won at Royal Birkdale in 1998 and is playing his final British Open, made quadruple-bogey 8. Ryan Moore took a double bogey and Chris Wood had to get up-and-down from 40 yards for a par.

It was an ominous start at a links course not known for low scoring.

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