British Open: Dustin Johnson has slim lead; Tiger Woods struggles

As Round 1 of the British Open winds down, Dustin Johnson is alone on top of the leaderboard.

But he still has plenty of company.

His seven-under par 65 is one stroke better than the score of six other golfers -- Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Retief Goosen and Robert Streb.

And five others -- defending Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and amateur Jordan Niebrugge -- are just two strokes behind Dustin Johnson, who was one of the golfers who finished at St. Andrew before the winds started picking up.

Rain is in the forecast for much of the rest of the weekend.

"Everybody knows the weather Friday and Saturday is going to be very difficult, so today I thought was very important to get off to a good start and try to make as many birdies as you can,” Dustin Johnson said. “Because the next couple days, it's going to be very difficult.”

Dustin Johnson and Spieth -- the two who will be forever linked after the dramatic finish to the U.S. Open last month -- were grouped together, and both of them came out hot.

Johnson was already sitting at four under just five holes in, with an eagle and two birdies. Spieth birdied five of the first seven holes and was five under after the first nine.

But Spieth ran into a bit of trouble on the back side, with a pair of bogeys to negate two more birdies. Meanwhile Johnson stayed solid, with two more birdies, and finished the day with no bogeys.

“If D.J. keeps driving it the way he is, then I'm going to have to play my best golf to have a chance,” Spieth said.

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10:45 a.m.: Danny Willett birdied the 18th hole to join the ever-growing pack (Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Retief Goosen and Robert Streb) tied for second place at six-under 66. They all trail leader Dustin Johnson by one stroke.

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10:35 a.m.: Tiger Woods did not take advantage of the ideal conditions after his early tee time on Thursday. He bogeyed his first two holes on his way to shooting a four-over 76, his worst round ever at St. Andrews.

"I made so many mistakes," Woods said. "I just didn't play well. It was not ideal. … It was just one of those mixed bags."

Woods is facing the definite possibility of missing the cut in back-to-back majors for the first time in his career. He would also be missing the cut in three out of his last four majors.

So Woods actually finds himself hoping for tougher playing conditions Friday.

"I know that today is a very benign day. Guys are going to go low. Guys have been shooting good numbers. Unfortunately I did not do that," Woods said. "Hopefully the conditions will be tough tomorrow and I can put together a good round and we'll move up the board progressively."

He could get his with, at least as far as the weather is concerned. Rain is expected overnight and could turn heavy early Friday. The wind could pick up as well.

"I'm so far back and the leaderboard is so bunched that in order for me to get in there by Sunday, I'm going to have to have the conditions tough and then obviously put together some really solid rounds," Woods said. "If you shoot some good, solid rounds in tough conditions like that, players can move up the board, and hopefully I'm one of them."

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10:23 a.m.: Zach Johnson birdied the 18th hole to pull back into a five-way tie for second place at six-under 66.

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10:12 a.m.: Jordan Niebrugg, a 21-year-old student at Oklahoma State, posted the lowest first-round score ever by an amateur during a British Open at St. Andrews with a five-under par 67.

That score puts him in an eight-way tie for seventh place, but just two strokes back of leader Dustin Johnson, who shot a seven-under 65. Also in that group at five under is Jordan Spieth, who is looking to win his third straight major championship.

“I feel like he's just got the most confidence in the world and that's what you need in this sport,” Niebrugge said of Spieth. “That's what everyone strives for. Definitely looking up to him and following in his footsteps just gives me that extra motivation.”

Niebrugg soon may have company in the record books. Another amateur, Ashley Chesters, is at five under through 11 holes.

Zach Johnson has dropped into that group at five under after bogeying the 17th, leaving Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Retief Goosen and Robert Streb in a four-way tie for second at six under.

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9:31 a.m.: Dustin Johnson is off to a quick start at the British Open, currently the leader in the clubhouse at seven-under after first round.

He said he took advantage of the dry, calm conditions Thursday with the knowledge that they might not stay that way the rest of the weekend. Rain is expected overnight and could turn heavy early Friday.

That, combined with a chance of increased winds, made Johnson glad he got in a strong round -- with an eagle, five birdies and no bogeys -- while he had the chance.

"It was very important to get off to a good start and make as many birdies as you can, because the next couple of days are going to be very difficult,” he said.

Johnson has a one-stroke lead over Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Retief Goosen and Robert Streb. Zach Johnson is through 15 holes while the other five are done for the day.

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8:15 a.m.: Zach Johnson has joined Robert Streb , Paul Lawrie and Jason Day at six-under par. He is through 11 holes while the other three have finished their rounds for the day.

All four of them, however, still trail Dustin Johnson, who is the leader in the clubhouse at seven under. He played a bogey-free round, making eagle on the fifth hole and throwing in five birdies for good measure.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods finished the day with a four-over 76, his worst round ever at St. Andrews. He was tied for 133rd, scoring better than just two other golfers who had finished their rounds.

Phil Mickelson has started strong, at three under after five.

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7:21 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, who came heartbreakingly close to winning the last major PGA event, is putting himself in position to have another shot at one during the first round of the British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Johnson is on top of the leaderboard, shooting a seven-under par 65 on Thursday. He has a one-stroke lead over Robert Streb , Paul Lawrie and Jason Day (through 17 holes).

At the U.S. Open last month, Johnson missed putts for eagle and birdie on the 18th hole in the final round to lose to Jordan Spieth by one stroke.

It just so happens that Johnson and Spieth are playing in the same trio for the first two days this time around, and another showdown could be brewing. Johnson played a bogey-free round, making eagle on the fifth hole and throwing in five birdies for good measure.

Spieth survived a couple of bogeys on the back side, connecting on a 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole, to finish the day at five under, currently tied for sixth place. He is seeking his third-straight major championship.

Tiger Woods is currently four-over par and tied for 123rd place after 17 holes. Phil Mickelson has just teed off for the day.

Twitter: @chewkiii

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