Sheffield’s Danny Willett had a dream start to The Open yesterday despite a lack of sleep the night before.
Willett, in his first Open Championship, was in the first group out at 6.30am having been up at 4am and on the practice ground not long after 5 o’clock.
He parred the first, two-putting from the edge of the green, and his first birdie was on the longest hole on the course, the 564 yard seventh.
He had three birdies and two bogeys for his one under par 69 and then the great and unforgettable moment of seeing his name at the top of the Open leaderboard - something every golfer dreams about.
He remained the leader in the clubhouse for an hour and continued his happy memories of Sandwich - the 23-year-old from Hackenthorpe won the English Amateur Championship at Royal St.George’s in 2007.
However, while this past success on the course gave him confidence, he admitted it counted for little at the biggest event of his life.
“I have not been nervous all week, I’ve been hitting the ball nicely but there is something different when they start announcing the names,” said Willett.
“Regardless of how much you do or don’t want it, you get butterflies and you start shaking a bit.
“But I hit it all right luckily. Usually I think I would have got more annoyed because most weeks on tour you need to be shooting four or five under par but knowing that walking off at level par at the end of the day at The Open is going to be pretty good.”
However, despite his high placing he wasn’t even the leading Yorkshireman because York’s Simon Dyson came in not long afterwards with a two under 68.
A day of surprises at The Open ended with the biggest one of all - the lowest-ever round by an amateur in the 140-year history of the championship. Tom Lewis, aged 20, a qualifier from the same Welwyn Garden City club that produced Sir Nick Faldo, went round Royal St George’s in a five under par 65.
And he leads with Thomas Bjorn - coached by Rotherham’s Pete Cowan - the Dane who eight years ago on the course led by three with four to play before stumbling over the closing stretch and losing by one to shock winner Ben Curtis.
Worksop’s Lee Westwood and world No1 Luke Donald came in with 71s, as did Rory McIlroy in his first event since his runaway US Open win last month.