Open champion Spieth loses ground in scrappy finish

All was going well for Jordan Spieth until he hit the final four holes at Carnoustie, when his promising opening round took a hit.

Jordan Spieth   -  Getty Images

Jordan Spieth faltered in the closing holes of the first round of his Open title defence to fall off the pace with a one-over-par 72.

The three-time major winner finished the day six shots back from early clubhouse leader and American compatriot Kevin Kisner, losing ground over the final four holes.

Gains at the second, fourth and 11th were largely undone by a scrappy double-bogey six at the 15th, where he had to play out sideways from a fairway bunker for his third shot.

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His troubles worsened following a poor tee shot at the par-three 16th, which led to another bogey before the 24-year-old also gave one back at the last.

Kisner showed little sign of bothering the summit of the leaderboard when he bogeyed the fifth to go one over, but he responded immediately with an eagle and shot 32 on an excellent back nine.

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Rory McIlroy, eyeing a first major triumph since victory at the 2014 US PGA Championship, was even through six as he opted for an aggressive approach by frequently pulling out the driver, while world number one Dustin Johnson matched that effort.

Returning three-time champion golfer of the year Tiger Woods tees off at 1521 on a day when conditions afford plenty of opportunities to shoot low.

Other names in the mix at the top of the standings include South Africa's duo Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard on four under.