Kuchar edges ahead as wind begins to buffet Birkdale


A day of high-scoring havoc appeared likely in The Open as wind began to gust around Royal Birkdale at the start of round two, with the prospect of more severe weather to come.

Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar all managed five-under 65s on the opening day, but the chances of a repeat on Friday looked slim.

Winds of 20mph were already posing problems as Kuchar went out among the morning starters, and the forecast suggested gusts of 35-40mph were potentially on the way, together with outbreaks of heavy rain in the afternoon.

Kuchar was nevertheless able to improve his position early on. After bogeying the second, the 39-year-old pitched in for birdie from the front of the third green and then made a two at the par-three fourth.

That lifted him to six under, one ahead of Spieth and Koepka, who were due out at 2:48pm and 3:10pm local time respectively.

Paul Casey - one off the lead overnight - quickly lost ground on his 40th birthday, giving up shots on the second and third.

Another early starter was Sergio Garcia, who appeared to injure his right shoulder on the fourth hole but duly eagled the fifth to get to two over for the tournament. Garcia was later seen walking alongside the European Tour's physio on the seventh.

The 9:47am grouping was one to watch, with Charl Schwartzel - four under in round one - out alongside Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who were both one over and in need of a good day.