U.S. Open winner Koepka atop leaderboard at British Open

Brooks Koepka sizes up a putt at the British OpenBrooks Koepka decided not to play any golf between his U.S. Open victory and the start of The Open championship at Royal Birkdale, and the rest and relaxation appears to be paying off. Koepka owns a three-way share of the lead following the first round, shooting 5 under alongside Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar.

Koepka is quickly becoming one of the PGA tour’s most consistent golfers, with Thursday marking his seventh straight round under par. He kept his score under par for all four rounds of the U.S. Open by using long, accurate drives to overcome the most difficult portions of Erin Hills, but he showed a different side of his game at Royal Birkdale with some accurate putting. Koepka didn’t even need to putt on the par-5 17th, when he holed his third shot from the bunker for the highlight of his opening round.

Spieth got off to a solid start, looking to improve upon his career-best fourth-place finish at the British major. His bogey-free Thursday more closely resembled his form when he won the Travelers Championship in June than his disappointing 35th-place finish at the U.S. Open. Kuchar shot 29 on the front 9 and went even-par for the rest of the round, and he’ll have another early tee time to get a jump on the scores again Friday.

Paul Casey was the best Brit in the opening round with 4 under, tying him with South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel. England is well-represented at 3 under with Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, who are alongside Canadian European Tour regular Austin Connelly. Things haven’t gone so well for pre-tournament betting favourite Dustin Johnson, who is still in the hunt at 1 over but will need a strong showing on Friday or Saturday to really make a charge. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are also 1 over, while Masters champion Sergio Garcia is 3 over.