Jiménez strikes early

7/18/2013 9:09:00 AM
Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Getty Images)
Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez made a perfect start as the 142nd Open Championship got under way at Muirfield.

Ryder Cup player Jiménez opened up with three successive birdies to take a share of the early lead with Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

The European Tour’s oldest winner, who finished ninth at Royal Lytham last year, opened with three threes, holing from five feet after a good approach to the third.

Ilonen spread his three birdies over his first five holes while Oliver Fisher briefly made it to three under after five only to encounter problems later.

The Englishman, in the first group out, found himself faced with an awkward stance in a greenside bunker at the 461 yard sixth he and only just managed to escape from the sand before two-putting for bogey.

Fisher then three-putted the eighth, which has a trickily-placed pin on a slope on the front right of the green, to drop him back to one under.

Jiménez's remarkable birdie run came within inches of continuing at the par three fourth as, despite going through the back of the green, he almost holed his chip back with the ball just catching the lip.

Fisher got back to within one of the lead thanks to a slice of good fortune at the ninth, having pushed his second close to out of bounds near the practice ground.

Having gained a free drop as his line was obstructed by steps to a grandstand, his 60 yard pitch finished 15 feet from the hole and he sank the birdie putt.

Ilonen lost three shots on one hole - the 461 yard sixth – running up a seven to drop back to level par.

Jiménez's day got better at the par five fifth as he two-putted from distance for a fourth birdie while Fisher holed from five feet to get back to three under at the 11th.

US Open Champion Justin Rose found the left rough off the first tee, while playing partner and defending champion Ernie Els did likewise with his second.

Rose holed a six footer for par but Els bogeyed after racing past the hole with his chip.

Jiménez's fellow Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello picked up three birdies in his first six holes to move to within one of his countryman.

England's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter bogeyed the first after his approach missed the green and he could not hole his 18 foot par effort while compatriot Fisher had a costly double bogey at the short 13th.

Jiménez's 50 footer for birdie lipped out at the eighth while Germany's Martin Kaymer eagled the par five fifth, putting 20 feet from just off the front of the green to leap to two under.

World Number Two Rory McIlroy drove into the right rough with his opening tee shot but after finding a greenside bunker, chipped to two feet for par.

Rose was struggling to find any rhythm early on but after racing a long birdie putt 12 feet past at the short fourth he made a good par putt.

Jiménez, meanwhile, was coasting along and despite finding sand with his second to the par five ninth he splashed out to ten feet and holed for his fifth birdie of the day to go out in 31.

McIlroy left a 20 foot birdie putt short at the second but playing partner Phil Mickelson holed from six feet to go under par.