Rookie Young Shoots 64, Leads McIlroy by 2 Shots in 150th Open at St. Andrews

Cameron Young didn’t act like a rookie, on or off the course.

The 25-year-old Young shot a blistering, bogey-free 8-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland after the first round of the 150th Open Championship on the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

And the 32nd-ranked Young played it cool, during and after his first-ever round in the oldest championship in the world.

“I think that’s a pretty accurate representation of how I feel,” said Young, who has finished in the top-five on five occasions this season, including second three times and a tie for third in the PGA Championship, but missed the cut last week in the Genesis Scottish Open by shooting 76-77. “I’m happy I shot 64. I’m happy that, as far as I know, I’m still leading The Open Championship, but it’s not going to change how I feel an hour from now.

“We worked our way around the golf course really well. I don’t think that I played a perfect round of golf. I just kind of scored really well. Any time you set foot on the first tee or 18th green or anywhere, especially on that part of the course, there’s just no hiding how special a place this is. Any time you’re around the lead in a major championship or any PGA Tour event, frankly, you get more and more comfortable every time.

“Last week was hard. You’re jet-lagged. We played in some pretty difficult conditions. I didn’t feel like I played horrible. I just scored really poorly. … Whether I’m leading by three or one or four back after today, I’ll sleep just fine. We’ll just take tomorrow as it comes.”

Young, who won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, seemed very comfortable on the Old Course that he played at the age of 13 on a trip to Scotland with his parents, collecting five birdies on the front nine and three on the back, where he also missed two birdie putts inside eight feet in his 64.

McIlroy, a three-time major champion who has finished in the top 10 in all three majors so far this season including second in the Masters, made four birdies on the front nine with three in a row through No. 7 and three more coming home in addition to his only bogey at No. 13 in a 66.

“I played well,” said McIlroy, who captured the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Merseyside, England, and opened his round at St. Andrews by sinking a 54-foot birdie putt on the first hole. “Very solid. I think everyone knows on this course you have to make your score going out and I did that, started off tremendously with a bit of a bonus at the first.

“It was great to get off to a good start. It hasn’t been my strong suit in recent seasons, but at the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and now here (this year), I’ve got off to a nice start and it’s all you can ask for.

“There were a couple of adventures in there too, but for the most part it was pretty stress free.”

Sixth-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia, the reigning Players champion, had three birdies on each nine against a lone bogey at No. 11 in a 67 and is tied for third with Robert Dinwiddie of England, who made the last of his own six birdies on the final hole and also had only one bogey.

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the Masters champion, made three straight birdies on his way to a 68 and is in a big tie for fifth with ninth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, who birdied the last three holes, two-time major champion Dustin Johnson, Kurt Kitayama of Chico and UNLV, Lee Westwood of England, Talor Gooch, Brad Kennedy and amateur Barclay Brown of England.

Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist, shot 69 and is in a tie for 13th that includes 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, while fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA is tied for 27th at 70.

Seventh-ranked Justin Thomas, the PGA champion, totaled 72 and is in a tie for 55th that includes defending champion and eighth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, 10th-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, the U.S. Open champion, and six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, while third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, is tied for 77th at 73.

Tiger Woods, the 15-time major champion who has won two of his three Open titles at St Andrews but is playing for only the third time this season after sustaining a major injury to his right leg in a rollover SUV accident early last year, struggled to a 78 and is tied for 148th.

Justin Rose of England, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, withdrew before the start of the round because of a neck injury.

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