J.B. Holmes was delighted to execute his game plan to perfection to take a first-round lead at The Open.
The American, who finished third at the tournament in 2016, carded a 66 to sit one shot clear of Shane Lowry and a vast chasing pack a further stroke back
A birdie at the last was the icing on the cake for the 37-year-old, who felt all parts of his game were firing at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
“I hit it great. I didn’t miss too many shots. When I did I missed them in the right spot,” he said after a five-under round in which his only blemish came at the first.
“I putted well. Stuck to our game plan and just executed about as perfectly as I could do it.”
There were times when the Dunluce track played like a typical links course, with the winds picking up and the rain lashing down, but Holmes enjoyed the challenge.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 18, 2019
“You just have to accept the conditions over here and not get too greedy and go after some pins,” he explained.
“Try to hit it to the fat of the green, the middle of the green and hopefully make some putts.
“It’s a lot different than we play in the States, you’re firing at flags and everything else. Here you’re trying to get it in the right spot on the green and make a putt.”
His low-scoring exploits stand in stark contrast to a couple of the pre-tournament favourites, with home hope Rory McIlroy signing for a 79, while Tiger Woods only managed one better than the Northern Irishman.