South African debutant Erik van Rooyen is early pace-setter at Open Championship

Debutant Erik van Rooyen made best use of benign conditions on the first day of the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie to take an early lead.

The 28-year-old South African recorded three birdies in his first six holes to lead by one from 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett.

Among a large group a short further back included 60-year-old Sandy Lyle, who had the honour of hitting the first tee shot at 6.35am in his final Open, who was one under at the turn.

The early groups were greeted by clear skies and very little wind so the onus was on them to take advantage and Van Rooyen did that with birdies at the opening two holes.

He came up short with an eagle putt on the par-five sixth but another birdie there kept him one clear of Willett, who recovered from the dubious honour of recording the first bogey of the tournament after missing a short putt at the first, bounced back with three successive birdies from the fourth.

Van Rooyen’s playing partner Matthew Southgate carded the first eagle of the tournament with a curling 25-footer at the 580-yard sixth to move to one under.

England’s Andy Sullivan started well with two birdies in his first four holes but, after failing to capitalise on the first of only two par fives on the course after driving into a bunker at the sixth, he carved his tee shot into the rough at the next and could not get up and down from the back of the green.

Worse was to follow at the short eighth as he overshot the putting surface and then chipped back past the hole and into a bunker for back-to-back bogeys.

The hard and fast course conditions considerably shortened the links, as evidenced by big-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters who boomed a 393-yard drive onto the first green and was inches short of holing his 40-foot eagle putt.

However, a misjudgement at the third saw his approach roll back into the burn for a double-bogey six.

- Press Association

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