Streb starts fast at St Andrews

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Playing in his first [British] Open, Robert Streb was the first golfer to set a scoring benchmark this morning at St Andrews, when he posted a 66, six under par, to set an early clubhouse lead for the 2015 Open. At the time of writing he now sits a single stroke behind Dustin Johnson’s lead.

Streb, 28, is forging a new career path in 2015, having won his first PGA Tour title, the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Georgia last October. That win has enabled the Kansas City golfer to play majors golf for the first time, and today he could not have hoped for a better Open start, playing in Scotland for the first time, and playing tournament golf on a links course for the first time too.

“I have never been over here,” said Streb after his round, “but I felt I am starting in a pretty good place at St Andrews. I have never done much with links golf but it’s been really cool and I am really enjoying everything about it.”

In adjusting to the blind tee shots, tight lies and varying winds of the Old Course, Streb asked fellow Kansas City resident Tom Watson if they could hook up for a practice round.

“Luckily Tom was nice enough to play,” said Streb, “and he was pretty helpful. Probably the best thing I got from him was to try not to hit the ball too far into the green on 17. He said just try to get it up there on top and take two putts and leave.”

And Streb did exactly that: holed out for par on 17 and protected his six-under-par score.

Watson knows all about over-hitting the 17th green. In the 1984 Open at St Andrews he was playing in the final pairing on the Sunday afternoon, trying to become the first golfer since Harry Vardon in 1914 to win a record six Opens, but he pushed his approach to the 17th green long and right, and his ball came to rest just inches inside the stone ball behind the Road Hole. Watson consequently dropped a shot, just as Seve Ballesteros birdied the 18th up ahead, and Watson finished runner-up by two shots. It was the most crushing blow of his storied Open career.

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