First tee: Senior Open Championship begins

7/25/2013 7:50:20 AM
Sunshine on the first tee as the opening group get underway at Royal Birkdale  (EuropeanTour)
Sunshine on the first tee as the opening group get underway at Royal Birkdale (EuropeanTour)

The 27th edition of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex has begun on a bright and breezy morning in Southport.

With Royal Birkdale looking resplendent bathed in early morning light, the sun breaking through scattered clouds to flood the famous links’ verdant fairways and illuminate the browns and greens of the plentiful native rough, play got underway at precisely 0700 local time in the north west of England.

America’s Rick Lewallen, dressed in a red, short-sleeved wind-breaker as if in anticipation of more variable weather to come, got the Championship started with a delightful baby fade, a three wood that found the centre of the fairway at the 450-yard par four first at Birkdale.

Lewallen was joined on the first tee by compatriot John Inman and qualifier Jan Lubieniecki, who became the first Pole to be announced by Official Starter Ivor Robson in all his 39 years of Open Championship coverage.

It is a star-studded 156-man field assembled for The 2013 Senior Open Championship, with no fewer than 18 Major Champions and nine Ryder Cup Captains in Southport this week, including 2010 triumphant Colin Montgomerie, who makes his Championship debut after turning 50 last month.

Royal Birkdale this week hosts the Senior Open for the first time, having previously staged nine Open Championships, most recently in 2008 when Padraig Harrington retained the title by four strokes.

The early starters will be looking to make hay while the sun shines, with isolated thunderstorms and heavy rain predicted to roll in during the afternoon.