Willett saves face during disappointing Open start

England's Danny Willett during day one of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 17, 2014. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No manipulation of images. No video emulation.

England's Danny Willett during day one of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 17, 2014. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No manipulation of images. No video emulation.

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A late positive push eased the disappointment of a difficult opening round at The Open for Danny Willett.

The Sheffield – who headed into the tournament on strong form – golfer had a tough time on the front nine in particular at Royal Liverpool.

And despite two birdies late in the round, he still has plenty to do today in order to make the cut.

With a late start in the 36th of 52 groups, there looked a strong opportunity for the Rotherham Golf Club member to make significant in roads on a day when few men were making much progress under par.

However Willett carded bogeys on the opening two holes and added another on the eighth to finish the front nine on three over par.

The 26-year-old steadied the ship with five consecutive pars before another bogey on 14 looked set to worsen a tough day.

But he managed to ensure his day finished on a more positive note, starting with a birdie two on the 15th.

Two more pars followed before another birdie on the last to see him card a two over par 74, eight shots off leader Rory McIlroy and tied for 85th place.

Willett will tee off for his second round at 8.05am on Friday, again alongside American Boo Weekley (-3) and Ashun Wu of China (+3).

The opening day was one that seemed to favour those with an early tee off time as McIlroy – out at 9.26am – showed.

The Northern Irishman continued his trend of getting off to flying starts in tournaments in 2014, firing birdies at the second, fifth and sixth to be out in 32 and adding more on the 10th, 12th and 16th.

“Any time you shoot 66 at the Open Championship, you’re going to be pleased,” the 25-year-old said. “We had perfect scoring conditions out there this morning.

“There wasn’t much wind early on and there were plenty of opportunities to make birdies and I was able to take a few of them.”

Worksop’s Lee Westwood was surprised no-one went lower than McIlroy.

The 41-year-old shot one-under in the afternoon after the morning starters had enjoyed the best of the conditions.

At one stage it appeared a score as low as 64 was on the cards in bright sunshine and little wind, but no-one could better McIlroy’s effort.

That left Westwood relatively pleased. “All in all I played pretty good,” he said.

“I was a little surprised with the scoring. I think this is as easy as the golf course is ever going to play.

“They said it was going to be tougher in the afternoon so 71 this afternoon is better than 71 this morning - I’m pleased about that.”

Tiger Woods, playing his first major of the year after undergoing back surgery, is lurking ominously on -3 after bouncing back from two early bogies.

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