While you slept: British Open early Day 1 updates

The 147th British Open teed off at 1:35 a.m. Eastern time, so we understand if you weren’t awake to watch the day’s first shots. No sweat; we’ve got you covered. Here’s what happened in the early hours at Carnoustie Golf Links:

Rahm unleashes the beast

Conventional wisdom holds that you can leave your driver in your bag this week at Carnoustie, relying on the dry fairways to give dozens of extra yards of roll. Jon Rahm sees your conventional wisdom and smacks it into orbit. At the 352-yard third hole, Rahm pulled out his driver and let the big dog eat, driving the green on the par-4 hole and staking out his turf early. He would go on to birdie the hole, kicking off a string of three birdies in four holes that put him within just a couple strokes of the lead.

Willett returns from purgatory

Remember Danny Willett? Dude who won the Masters when Jordan Spieth found the water on 12 back in 2016? Guy whose brother nearly set off an international incident by tweaking Americans on Twitter during the Ryder Cup later that year? Yeah, there’s a reason you haven’t heard much from him since then: he’s been terrible. But he’s shaken off his two-year-long doldrums and begun playing much better. At Carnoustie early Thursday, he carded five birdies over a 10-hole stretch to briefly snare the lead. A bogey-bogey finish dulled the luster of his card a bit, but he can take a bit of pride in another strong major performance.

Spieth starts strong

Jordan Spieth is the defending champion at the British Open, but he hasn’t won since then, the longest victory-less stretch in his career since he was a lad. He began strong, dropping two birdies in his first four holes. The dry conditions at Carnostie, which are rolling balls right off greens and into bunkers, will test Spieth’s temper, but so far, so good.

Kisner leads the parade

Rickie Fowler still holds the “best never to win a major” mantle right now, but if he manages to win this week, that notorious designation could soon land on the shoulders of Kevin Kisner. The University of Georgia product sounds like a NASCAR driver but putts with a surgeon’s touch, needing a mere 22 putts over 18 holes on Thursday to take the clubhouse lead at five-under. Carnoustie will give up some low scores early in the tournament, so Kisner’s lead may not hold up for long, but it’s a strong start to a guy who’s edging his way into the major-winning conversation.

The Tiger-Phil report

Phil Mickelson finished his early round with an unspectacular two-over 73 that included a double-bogey on the par-3 16th hole. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was slated to go off in one of the day’s final groups, teeing off at 10:21 a.m. Eastern.

Bunker drama

The pot bunkers of the British Open are legendary nightmares, spiraling holes deep enough to hide a good ol’ American SUV. They’re easy to fall into and tough to get out of, as Alexander Bjork found out early Thursday:

Fortunately, that was only practice. But expect to see someone shred their scorecard with a shot like that before the tournament’s done.

The tournament plays on Golf Channel and the Open Championship and NBC Sports apps all the way through till Thursday afternoon. Keep checking Yahoo Sports for updates throughout the tournament. 

Carnoustie was anything but nasty as the British Open began. (Getty)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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