British Open 2017: 'Pumped up' Ian Poulter ready to take on anyone

Dustin Johnson of the U.S. walks on the 4th hole during a practice round ahead of the 146th Open of Championship at Royal Birkdale Southport England Monday

Johnson, Spieth favorites as British Open begins

Colin Montgomerie made the observation early on Saturday morning, saying the players needed to feast on the Birkdale course in what had shaped up to be benign conditions.

The later wave saw sun and mild temperatures, though, and some players were able to take full advantage, including the trio of Americans now sharing the lead, who all fired matching 5-under 65s.

Spieth carded a bogey-free 65 at Royal Birkdale to share the clubhouse lead with US Open champion Brooks Koepka, whose round included four birdies and an eagle. David Lipsky is now one shot back at -4.

And Koepka had been inactive for a week longer since claiming his first major title in the US Open at Erin Hills, where his 16-under-par total equalled the tournament record set by Rory McIlroy in 2011.

Spieth was still out there, drawing on his experience from 12 months ago when he played through "sheets of sideways rain" on Friday afternoon at Royal Troon.

Royal Birkdale, which borders the Irish Sea north of Liverpool, is known as one of the world's great links courses, possibly the "best" course on the Open rotation, according to McIlroy. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter were both at 2 under on a day when birdies were hard to come by on one of the toughest courses in the Open rotation.

"Anytime you're in the last group on a weekend in a major. you get nervous".

The 38-year-old journeyman from Wales ranked No. 520 in the world teed off in his first British Open on Thursday after 13 years of struggling as a pro.

"I'm in a bonus week", Poulter said.

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"It feels absolutely marvelous, it really does", he said. And just getting a feel for playing the different shots that you are required to play over here.

He went out in 29 and saw a birdie putt skirt the cup on 17, denying the 39-year-old the outright lead at a track he conceded to having forgotten "just how good it was".

"On shots from that whispy rough, Jordan knows he has to hit ball first", says top SC teacher Brad Redding, who is based at the International Club at Myrtle Beach.

"But we've been moving in the right direction and I believe we can do this".

"And he kept saying, 'Come on, Poults".

After needing three off the tee, he ended up with an ugly quadruple-bogey eight and he eventually signed off for an 11-over-par opening round of 81.

"These fans are hardened fans to any kind of condition, and for them to stay out in these cold, windy, rainy conditions, it's special".

MISSING OUT: Among those missing the cut were former champions Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington. "Because it's not easy out there right now".

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