The Open Championship boasts a history practically unmatched in the sporting world, with the famous St Andrews primed to host the 150th edition of golf's oldest major this week.

As the world's best players prepare to tee it up at the home of golf, all in the field will be hoping to write their names into the pages of this storied event.

Ahead of what promises to be a thrilling week of action on the east coast of Scotland, Stats Perform has delved into the history books to bring you the most intriguing facts and figures surrounding the most historic of golf's majors.

HARD LUCK JACK AND HAPPY HARRY

Nobody boasts more Open triumphs than the six claimed by the legendary Harry Vardon, who first prevailed in 1896 and last lifted the Claret Jug in 1914.

But for every winner there are those who nurse the heartbreak of narrowly missing out, and nobody became more familiar with that feeling than Jack Nicklaus.

With 18 major wins to his name, including three at The Open, it might be a stretch to summon too much sympathy for Nicklaus, but he had to make do with finishing second or in a tie for second on no fewer than seven occasions. 

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED...

When Collin Morikawa won at Royal St George's last year, he became the 10th player to taste success on debut.

That tells you that most players have to be patient when it comes to laying hands on the famous silverware, and for some that wait never ends.

But there are those for whom persistence has paid off handsomely – namely Darren Clarke and Phil Mickelson, who both finally triumphed at the 19th time of asking.

 

WIRE-TO-WIRE WINS ARE RARE

Only seven players have enjoyed wire-to-wire victories at a 72-hole Open, whereby they have held the outright lead at the end of all four rounds.

Rory McIlroy was the most recent example, achieving the feat at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

The last player to manage it at St Andrews was a certain Tiger Woods in 2005 – the second of his three Open wins as he retained his title the following year.

START FAST, FINISH STRONG

In 2010, St Andrews was the stage for the lowest opening round by an eventual winner as Louis Oosthuizen flew out of the traps with a 65.

Jordan Spieth equalled that with his first-round effort at Royal Birkdale in 2017, which was the year after Henrik Stenson had showed the importance of finishing with a flourish when his closing 63 saw off the challenge of Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon.

It also helps if your middle two rounds are solid, but very few players manage to put together four consistent sets of 18. Indeed, Woods is the only player to card four sub-70 rounds at St Andrews, doing so en route to his 2005 victory.

DON'T THROW IT AWAY NOW!

There is arguably no other sport that tests the psychological limits of its protagonists more than golf, which has seen more than its fair share of mental meltdowns.

Many will be familiar with the nightmare story of Jean Van de Velde's Open collapse in 1999 when he below a five-stroke lead after 54 holes – his hopes left to drown in Carnoustie's Barry Burn.

But that is not the biggest lead surrendered at The Open, with that dubious honour still belonging to Abe Mitchell, who led by six after two rounds in 1920 but ended up four adrift of champion George Duncan.

All eyes in the golfing world will be trained on St Andrews this week as The Open returns for its 150th championship.

The final major of a year of fracture for the sport will bring the biggest names together once more, but who is best placed to take home the Claret Jug?

Five Stats Perform writers have their say ahead of the tournament...

LIV AND LET LIVE? OOSTHUIZEN IS A ST ANDREWS MASTER – Pete Hanson

Is it time to live and let live (or rather LIV and let live)? The proverb is defined as being able to "tolerate the opinions and behaviour of others so that they will similarly tolerate your own", but in the instance of the LIV defectors it is increasingly difficult to accept the decision for jumping ship as anything other than a nauseating money grab. That being said, looking at this through a purely sporting lens, LIV players who have qualified for The Open are allowed to play this weekend and Louis Oosthuizen knows a thing or two about St Andrews. The South African romped to a seven-shot win at the home of golf in 2010 and only lost in a three-man play-off to Zach Johnson at the same venue five years later. He was also leading through three rounds at Royal St George's a year ago before a final round one over coupled with a Collin Morikawa masterclass saw him end up tied for third.

RORY WINNING POPULARITY CONTESTS AND NOW SEEKS ST ANDREWS SUCCESS – Ben Spratt

If the LIV breakaway has made villains of a number of star names, Rory McIlroy is the PGA Tour's hero. With news of each defector, McIlroy has stood firm in his opposition to the Saudi-backed series – all the while stringing together a superb run of form, finishing in the top 20 in each of his past seven entries and the top 10 in each of the first three majors of the year. Rory is a very real contender this week, and there could hardly be a more popular winner. He has unfinished business at St Andrews, too, having tied for third in 2010 and then missed the 2015 event – where he would have been the defending champion – through injury.

RED-HOT SCHAUFFELE IS THE MAN TO BEAT – Russell Greaves

Fresh from his victory at the Scottish Open – where other putative Open contenders floundered – Xander Schauffele is certainly one to watch. Last week's victory at the Renaissance Club, which came despite a two-over-par opening round, came hot on the heels of his triumph at the Travelers Championship, sending the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist to St Andrews as a man in form. The American has also been in the mix at golf's oldest major before, finishing tied second at Carnoustie in 2018, where a final-round 74 ended his hopes of a maiden major. That search will continue this week for the 28-year-old, with the Claret Jug firmly in his sights. 

MORE MORIKAWA MAGIC INCOMING? – Patric Ridge

Morikawa enjoyed a sensational 2021, triumphing at Royal St George's to claim his second major title aged just 24 and becoming the first player to win on his Open debut since 2003. Yet 2022 has so far failed to yield the same success for the defending champion. He went into the weekend with the lead at last month's U.S. Open, only for a wobble on the Saturday to prove costly. After recovering with a fourth-round 65 to finish tied for fifth, Morikawa said he had learned to "just go play golf", although that approach did not serve him particularly well at the Scottish Open, where he failed to make the cut. If he manages to find the composure that deserted him during that dismal third round in Boston, however, then the world number eight cannot be overlooked as a serious contender once again.

CANTLAY CAN COME GOOD ON THE MAJOR STAGE – John Skilbeck

As the rumour mill links him with an LIV Golf switch, Patrick Cantlay is keeping his focus on the course. The American had a win alongside Schauffele in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April and has achieved four top-fives and two top-15 finishes in his past seven events, including a tie for fourth at the Scottish Open. The elephant in the room is that Cantlay has mostly flunked the majors this year, tying for 39th at The Masters, missing the cut at the US PGA Championship and trailing home in a share of 14th at the U.S. Open. However, the 30-year-old is not fourth in the world rankings for nothing; his time is surely coming. Florida-based Cantlay ranks in the top five for birdie (or better) percentage on the PGA Tour when finding the fairway off the tee this year but is outside the top 70 when driving into the rough, so accuracy from the tee will likely determine his fate.

Branden Grace posted a seven-under 65 in the final round on Saturday, leapfrogging Dustin Johnson and Carlos Ortiz to win LIV Golf Portland.

Two shots behind the co-leaders at the start of the third round, Grace reeled off four birdies in the final six holes, including three consecutive birdies between 15 and 17, to take out the tournament.

With the victory, the South African follows up compatriot Charl Schwartel's win in London at LIV Golf's inaugural event in June.

The South African quartet that makes up Stinger GC - Grace, Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Hennie du Plessis – could only manage second in the team standings, though, with Johnson's 4 Aces GC taking out first.

"What a day. It's been like this the whole day, the crowd came out and I played flawless golf," Grace said afterwards. "I played, really, really well when I needed to do something special. It came up and I managed to pull it off, but what a great day.

"I knew the back nine, I had to kind of dig deep. Carlos was playing great golf, DJ was coming back and I think, one of the big things for me today was the birdie on 13.

"Then I thought, 'Now, I'm in with it.' Obviously, the finish was just amazing."  

Amid the news former Ryder Cup player Paul Casey defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-backed breakaway competition, Grace finished the tournament on 13-under, two strokes ahead of Ortiz who posted a three-under 69 on Saturday.

They were followed by 2020 Masters winner Johnson and another recent defector in Patrick Reed, who finished on nine-under after 54 holes.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson finished tied for 40th this week with a 54-hole score of 10-over. Through two LIV Golf events, Mickelson is a combined 20-over par.

Adam Hadwin ended Thursday as the outright leader following the opening round of the U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The Canadian shot a four-under-par round of 66, one ahead of five players tied for second, including Rory McIlroy, who had been four under himself before bogeying his final hole on the ninth.

Callum Tarren, David Lingmerth, Joel Dahmen and M.J. Daffue sit alongside McIlroy, with seven more players on two under, including Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson.

It was otherwise not a great day for some of the LIV Golf International Series participants, with Phil Mickelson carding an opening round of 78 (seven over), while Louis Oosthuizen managed just one shot better and Sergio Garcia finished on four over.

LIV Golf's new additions Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau ended even par and one over respectively. 

World number one Scottie Scheffler recovered from a wobbly start to finish on even par, while PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas ended the day one under, as did the man he beat in a playoff for that trophy, Will Zalatoris.

Defending champion Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Adam Scott also shot one-under rounds of 69, while world number four Patrick Cantlay came away from Thursday two over.

Shot of the day

After ending up just off the green in the longer grass on the 12th, a precision chip from Matt Fitzpatrick still had a significant distance to travel, but slowly rolled its way straight into the hole to the delight of the Englishman and the Brookline crowd, sending him back to two-under straight after bogeying the 11th.

Player of the day - Adam Hadwin

Hadwin sat on one over after three holes, before birdieing five of the next six to catapult himself into the leading pack. The 34-year-old has never finished higher than T39th in this tournament, and also responded to a bogey at 12 with another immediate birdie at 13, and then ended with five tidy pars to head into day two as the outright leader.

Chipping in

Rory McIlroy: "I'm going into tomorrow with the mindset of 'let's keep it going', rather than 'where is the cut line' or whatever. If you don't get off to a great start, those thoughts start to creep in, 'okay, what do I need to just be here for the weekend?'"

Jon Rahm (asked about two children stealing his ball on the 18th hole): "Yes… I'm pretty sure I know who it was. I recognised the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face. (Laughing) I am 100 per cent sure I saw the two kids that stole it."

A little birdie told me...

- McIlroy's 67 was the 13th of his career at the U.S. Open, now level with Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia for most by a European player at the tournament.

- Lingmerth, ranked 592nd in the world, has never finished worse than tied for 21st in three previous U.S. Open appearances, and the Swede started with a promising 67 here.

- The first round scoring average of the last 10 winners at the U.S. Open is 69.1, with 25 players hitting under that on Thursday.

Defending champion Sam Burns is one of four players to score a seven-under-par 64, after the first round of play at the Valspar Championship on Thursday.

The world number eight had a busy round on the opening day, with nine birdies and two bogeys. He recovered well after bogey the par-four 16th and reeled off birdies on the final two holes to close out his opening 18 holes.

Following a chaotic weekend at The Players Championship, the Florida weather had a positive effect on the Copperhead course, with Burns reaping the benefits from facilitative greens.

"The greens are really receptive with the rain we’ve gotten last week," he told reporters following his round.

"Yeah, I think the golf course will continue to firm up after we get some sun and wind and I think it’s going to play really well the next few days."

Burns, David Lipsky, Adam Hadwin and Jhonattan Vegas share the lead at Copperhead after the first day of play.

Scott Stallings, Richy Werenski, Davis Riley and Danny Lee are one back at six under, while Justin Thomas, Kramer Hickok and Doc Redman are a further two strokes back.

After missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass, Jason Day opened with a one-under-70, only two weeks after the passing of mother.

Notable names in group at four under include Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen.

Out of the co-leaders, though, Lipsky was the only one to go bogey-free, opening with a birdie on the par-five first to set the tone on a confident front nine. He closed out the round with four consecutive pars.

The 33-year-old has never won on the PGA Tour and has not won an event since his time on the European Tour in 2018.

Florida native Daniel Berger moved five strokes clear ahead of the final day at the Honda Classic, matching the largest 54-hole lead in tournament history on Saturday.

The world number 20 had held a three-shot lead at the halfway mark but extended that with a one-under-69 following back-to-back 65s at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.

Berger led by as many as six strokes after sticking a brilliant tee shot for birdie on the par-three 15th hole before a bogey on the 18th hole.

The American leads from a group of four players tied on six-under, including Irishman Shane Lowry who carded a round of six-under-67 to move up the leaderboard.

Lowry is tied with Sepp Straka, Chris Kirk and day one leader Kurt Kitayama, with the latter two carding rounds of one-over-71 having been tied for second after the first two days.

“Obviously you want to go out and catch him tomorrow, but I don’t think you can go and catch anyone on this golf course," said Lowry, whose round was the best of the day with only 13 players above even.

“You just need to do your thing and shoot the best score you can and hopefully it will be somewhere near good enough."

Lowry's round included four birdies and a bogey, while he drained a 20-foot putt on the sixth hole to save par.

Canadian Adam Svensson is one stroke back from the quartet at five-under, before a three-shot gap to the next in the field.

Pre-tournament favourites Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen are both well back, at one-over and two-over overall respectively.

Hometown hero Daniel Berger opened up a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Honda Classic in Florida after carding six birdies on Friday.

Berger, who is ranked 20th in the world, backed up his opening day five-under 65 with a repeat score, highlighted by a 38-foot birdie putt on the par-three seventh hole, to be 10-under at Palm Beach Gardens.

The Florida native leads by three shots from Chris Kirk and first day leader Kurt Kitayama, the latter carding a one-under-69 to slip from the summit.

“Just one of those days when I kept the momentum going,” Berger told reporters. “I hit a lot of quality shots, even though they don't look like they're five feet from the hole, or 10 feet from the hole.

“I know that they're so difficult, that to hit it to 20 feet is a good shot. And that's the challenge for this golf course is the pins are tucked, the greens are firm, wind's up, so you have to be really on point with where you're going to miss.”

Mark Hubbard surged up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth alongside Canadian Adam Svensson with the pair carding rounds of 64 and 65 respectively to be six-under overall.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Ousthuizen produced a strong round to avoid the cut, after his opening day five-over-75.

The South African is even after two rounds, behind Berger by 10 strokes, but managed six birdies on his back nine to stay in contention after a double bogey on the 11th hole seemed to condemn him.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is among a large group alongside Oosthuizen that are even after two rounds with the American carding a two-over-72.

Padraig Harrington, Brian Harman, Charl Schwartzel and last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann were among those to miss the cut.

Kurt Kitayama managed four straight birdies on his back nine to claim the lead ahead of Daniel Berger in a group of three after the opening day of the Honda Classic in Florida on Thursday.

The little-known American carded a six-under-round of 64, starting the day with three straight birdies, before his hot run on his back nine at Palm Beach Gardens.

Kitayama has enjoyed a good recent period, making the cut at his past five starts before Thursday's impressive feat as solo leader.

"I think when you're struggling, I think just that self-motivation to find keep getting better and finding a way to figure it out, it's kind of how you've got to keep going," Kitayama told reporters.

The 29-year-old leads by one stroke from Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk and hometown hero Berger who are five-under.

World number 20 Berger started his round brilliantly, with three birdies on his first four holes, while he also sunk a 28-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole with no ill-effects from a back problem that has been plaguing him lately.

Slovakian veteran Sabbatini made birdie on the 18th to jump into a share of second, with Kirk having eight birdies and three bogeys in an entertaining round.

Danny Willett, Matthias Schwab, Andrew Kozan, Aaron Rai and Peter Uihlein are all next tied for fifth at three under.

Four-time major winner and current world number 15 Brooks Koepka managed three birdies in his round of two-under-68 to be four shots off the pace.

Last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann had an even round of 70, despite leading early after four birdies on his front nine, with a double bogey holding him up on the fourth hole.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Oosthuizen will battle to make the cut after five bogeys on the front nine before a double bogey on the 17th hole left him with a five-over-75.

Talor Gooch has returned to form at the RSM Classic and took his place at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend with another low round.

Gooch made a superb start to the new season, finishing in ties for fourth, 11th, fifth and 11th respectively across his first four events.

The American failed to build on another strong start last time out at the Houston Open, but he now has a first PGA Tour victory firmly in his sights at Sea Island Resort.

Gooch had carded an eight-under 64 when playing the Plantation course on Thursday and further improved his position with a five-under 65 at Seaside in round two.

That was enough for a one-stroke lead over John Huh and Sebastian Munoz, the latter having led after shooting 60 to start at Seaside before two bogeys capped his progress on Friday.

The day undoubtedly belonged to Gooch, who sunk the longest putt of his Tour career for an eagle from 66 feet at the seventh.

"It's just comfortable, man. I'm playing well, but I think my game has made a turn for some good stuff in some ways," he said.

"I've been working my butt off for years, but especially the last six, eight months with driving the ball and working my butt off with putting."

The majority of the big names made the cut, with slumping former world number one Jason Day one notable exception, but Louis Oosthuizen – the highest-ranked player at the tournament – is no threat to Gooch.

The South African withdrew before Friday's round due to his latest bout of back pain.

Colombian Sebastian Munoz leads the way after the opening day at the RSM Classic in Georgia after carding a career round of 10-under 60 on Thursday.

Munoz landed eight birdies along with an eagle on the 15th hole on a day of low scoring at the event, which is played over both the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island.

Zach Johnson, who like Munoz played his opening round on the par-70 Seaside course, is one stroke behind, while Mackenzie Hughes, Scott Stallings and Chez Reavie are also nine under after starting on the par-72 Plantation.

Munoz's round equalled Tommy Gainey's 2012 round record at Seaside, while Hughes, Stallings and Reavie also matched the Plantation course record with their 63s.

Johnson, who hit all 18 greens, said: "When you’ve got just absolute pure conditions weather-wise and pure conditions on the golf course — the best I’ve ever seen these two golf courses, period — you know you’ve got to get after it."

A further four players are tied at eight under in Russell Henley, Jhonattan Vegas, Talor Gooch and Corey Conners, with only the latter starting on Seaside.

Scottie Scheffler carded seven-under 63 at Seaside, working with Bubba Watson's long-time caddie Ted Scott for the first time.

Australian Cameron Smith, among the pre-event favourites, started with a six-under round at Seaside, while defending champion Robert Streb opened with a four-under day at Plantation. 

A double bogey at the Plantation seventh hole meant Webb Simpson slipped off the pace after shooting a three-under-69, while Louis Oosthuizen had an unspectacular one-under opening round at Seaside.

Harris English heads into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with a two-stroke lead after maintaining his spot atop the leaderboard Friday.

The American followed Thursday's 62 with a five-under-par 65 at TPC Southwind, where he won his first PGA Tour title eight years ago. 

Australia's Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer of Mexico surged into a tie for second place after carding 62s of their own in Memphis to sit at 11 under for the tournament.

Ian Poulter (66), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Sam Burns (64) are three back of the lead at 10 under, while Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) are well within striking distance at nine under. 

English started on the back nine and made three birdies going out before carding his first and only bogey of the day at the par-four second hole. But he managed to follow that disappointment with an eagle on the third before adding one more birdie later in his round.

Smith also eagled the third on the way to tying a PGA Tour record, as he needed just 18 putts to complete his bogey-free round. 

That included a two-put at the last, not long after Smith figured out he was on the verge of history. 

"I was walking down 17 and was counting my putts up and I thought, 'No, that can't be right,'" Smith said. 

Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Justin Thomas (67) is seven strokes back of the lead at six under along with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson (65).

Phil Mickelson (66) is at five under, whie Hideki Matsuyama (69) and Patrick Reed (69) are well back at three under. 

Rory McIlroy (66), Sergio Garcia (68), and Collin Morikawa (71) are at two under, one stroke better than Brooks Koepka (69). 

Jordan Spieth (69) enters the weekend at even par and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (73) is at two over. 

Harris English won his first PGA Tour title at TPC Southwind eight years ago, and he has another triumph in his sights after opening with a 62 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

The American has a two-stroke lead over four pursuers, as Ian Poulter, Carlos Ortiz, Jim Herman and Matthew Wolff carded six-under-par 64s Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman were three shots back after shooting 65, with DeChambeau making his first start since missing the Tokyo Olympics following a positive COVID-19 test. 

Among the group two shots behind them at five under were defending champion Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and the red-hot Louis Oosthuizen, who has top-three finishes in four of his last five starts.

Among other notables, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are at two under, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele at one under, and Brooks Kopeka and Sergio Garcia at even par.

Jordan Spieth is at one over and Rory McIlroy at two over, leaving him 62nd in the 66-player field. 

But they will all start Friday chasing English. The 32-year-old carded seven birdies on a blistering front nine, then faltered a bit with bogeys at 10 and 12 before closing his round with birdies at three of the last four holes. 

"It was one of those rounds where I was hitting it really good off the tee and making a lot of good putts," English told reporters. 

English won at Memphis in its previous incarnation as the Tour's St. Jude Classic in June 2013, then added another title that fall. 

That was his last PGA Tour win before this year, which has seen him take the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and the Travelers Championship in June. 

 

 

Cameron Champ's three-day charge up the 3M Open leaderboard ended at the top on Sunday as the American took his third PGA Tour title.

Champ spread five birdies throughout a bogey-free final round at TPC Twin Cities, shooting 66 to finish the tournament at 15 under par.

That was two strokes better overall than the trio of Louis Oosthuizen (66), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonattan Vegas (68), who tied for second at 13 under.

The 26-year-old Californian winner looked like he would need that cushion on the final hole as he yanked his tee shot well off the fairway, but a perfect approach shot gave him a two-foot putt for par and the title.

Champ battled his own body at times in the Minnesota heat, moving slowly late in his round and occasionally bending over while waiting to hit his shots.

He hung on at the end, though, adding a third title to his previous two PGA Tour wins at the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship.

"I was definitely dehydrated, but obviously I feel a lot better now," Champ told reporters, adding that he began to feel light-headed when he bent down to place or pick up his ball marker.

"Not sure why I was, because I drank a lot of water. You have so much adrenaline going and I was just trying to control that."

Sunday's near-miss was a familiar feeling for all three of the men who shared second place.

Oosthuizen has been runner-up in four of his last seven starts, while Vegas finished second for the third time this season and Schwartzel for the second time.

Keith Mitchell (67) finished a shot behind that trio to take fifth place, a day after recording seven consecutive birdies on the back nine.

Third-round leader Cam Tringale had a desperate day, shooting 74 to finish six strokes back of Champ at nine under.

Among other notables, Sergio Garcia (67) finished at eight under after his best round of the week, while Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were at six under after closing with 71s.

Adam Hadwin and Ryan Armour have waited a long time for their second PGA Tour wins, and they will enter the weekend with a chance as they sit atop the leaderboard at the 3M Open. 

The Canadian Hadwin and the American Armour each followed opening-round 67s at TPC Twin Cities with six-under-par 65s Friday to sit at 10-under for the tournament as first-round co-leader Rickie Fowler crashed out of the top spot after shooting 73.  

The 45-year-old Armour birdied four of the last eight holes with a bogey mixed in at 13 to claim a share of the lead.

Hadwin, 33, started on the back nine and had a roller-coaster ride through the same stretch of course, taking a bogey at 13 and double bogey at 15 with birdies on 14 and 16 before settling in for a more consistent final nine holes. 

Armour's lone Tour win came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October 2017, while Hadwin secured his only title to date seven months earlier at the Valspar Championship. 

Fowler entered the day tied with Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after carding a bogey-free 64 Thursday for his best score of the year, but he managed only one birdie Friday and finished his round tied for 26th at five under overall. 

Merritt also dropped off the pace with a 71, leaving him three back of the leaders, while the Venezuelan Vegas (69) is one stroke back along with Bo Hoag, Chez Reavie and Roger Sloan. 

Louis Oosthuizen is four back of the lead after a second consecutive 68, while former world number one Luke Donald (68) is five back at five under. 

Former Masters champions Sergio Garcia (70), Patrick Reed (70) and Bubba Watson (68) just made the two-under cut.

Among the high-profile players missing the cut were Dustin Johnson (72) and Stewart Cink (73), who were both at even par for the tournament. 

Dylan Frittelli (76) also did not make it to the weekend on the heels of his fifth-place finish at The Open. 

Former Masters runner-up Rickie Fowler is a joint leader alongside Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after the opening day at the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota on Thursday.

Fowler had a bogey-free round to card a seven-under 64, which included holing a 29-foot putt for birdie on the first hole.

Merritt stormed home with six birdies for 30 on his back nine after bogeying the ninth hole to share the lead, along with Venezuelan Vegas who shot seven birdies in his round.

"I'm happy about it," Fowler said about his round of 64, which was his best score of the year. "Coming off Sunday at The Open [where he shot 65], a lot of good stuff there, but I drove it a lot better."

Scott Stallings, Adam Schenk and Roger Sloan – who got through 16 before play was suspended due to darkness – are all tied one stroke back after rounds of six under.

Stallings may have held the outright lead but double bogeyed the 18th hole to cap an up-and-down round for the American which included nine birdies, one bogey and the double bogey.

Chez Reavie hit an eagle on the 18th set up by a nice fairway wood, finishing up with a five-under 66 to be joint seventh among a host of players.

After his dramatic top-four finish at The Open, Louis Oosthuizen carded a three-under 68, while Royal St George's fifth-place getter Dylan Frittelli started with a two-under 69.

Former major winners Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are both a stroke back at one under. Johnson hit four birdies and three bogeys, while Garcia landed three birdies in four holes but struggled to find the consistency.

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