Kevin Kisner claims Palmetto Golf Club back home in Aiken, S.C., got him ready for playing in the Open Championship.
The 34-year-old Kisner shot 5-under-par 66 in the first round of the 147th Open to take a one-stroke lead over Tony Finau and South Africans Zander Lombard and Erik van Rooyen at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland.
“Palmetto is a great golf course for British Open (preparation),” said Kisner, who has won twice on the PGA Tour but is searching for his first major victory. “It’s firm, fast and undulating around the greens. That’s why I feel so comfortable here around the greens, because I see the same type of shots at home often.
“If I can keep it in the fairway, I feel like I can control my golf ball around the green. The greens are calm, and around the greens are flat. I feel like any time I’m around the green I’m going to make 4 or par at the worst. So that’s been my game plan.
“If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot.”
One of Kisner’s 22 putts was a 40-footer for eagle on the sixth hole.
Finau made four birdies and two bogeys on each nine in his 67, while Lombard matched that score after carding four birdies on the first eight holes, and Van Rooyen played flawlessly until making a bogey on the last hole to drop back into the tie for third.
Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside had three birdies on the back nine in a 68 and is tied for fifth with Ryan Moore, who made five birdies on the front nine, and Brandon Stone of South Africa, whose only bogey came at No. 15.
Second-ranked Justin Thomas totaled 69 and is tied for eighth with fifth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, 2014 Open champion and eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Pat Perez of San Diego, Danny Willett of England, 2015 champion Zach Johnson, Chez Reavie, Russell Henley, Sung Kang of South Korea and Matthew Southgate of England.
Seventh-ranked Rickie Fowler is tied for 18th at 70, while three-time Open champ Tiger Woods shot 71 and is in a tie for 32nd that includes ninth-ranked Jason Day of Australia.
Defending champion and sixth-ranked Jordan Spieth was 3-under through 14 holes but had a double bogey and two bogeys down the stretch to finish at 72 and slip to a tie for 50th that includes third-ranked Justin Rose of England, fourth-ranked Brooks Keopka and 10th-ranked Tommy Fleetwood of England.
Phil Mickelson, who won the 2013 Open at Muirfield, is tied for 71st at 73 and top-ranked Dustin Johnson made a triple bogey-7 on the last hole while struggling to a 76 and is tied for 129th.
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