St Andrews - Jordan Spieth got his Open campaign off to a promising start at St Andrews on Thursday, but in the end he had to bow to playing partner Dustin Johnson who leads after the first round.
Open Championship: Day 1 leaderboard
Tiger Woods meanwhile had another day of major misery and already he is facing a battle to avoid a third missed cut in the last four majors.
Spieth got the better of Johnson on the 18th hole last month when he added the US Open to his breakthrough win in April at the Masters.
But no hard feelings were evident between the American pair as they happily bantered away together and bagged birdies on a morning of low scoring on an under-sieged Old Course .
Both reached the turn at five under 31 after which it was Johnson who excelled going down the more difficult back nine.
He moved out to seven under 65, while Spieth's normally reliable putter suddenly sputtered, coughing up bogeys at 13 and 17, the notorious Road Hole.
The 21-year-old Texan, however, sunk a snaking 20-footer for birdie at the last and a round of 67.
Both Americans clearly stated their case that they are among the main men to beat at the fabled Old Course this week.
In the absence of the injured Rory McIlroy, Spieth is the focal point of the tournament as he can add the British open crown to the Masters and US Open titles he already owns, thus becoming just the second player, after Ben Hogan in 1953, to do so.
Johnson just wants to win a major after near misses in all four Grand Slam tournaments in recent years.
His mid-morning draw, he agreed, had been beneficial.
"Everybody knows the weather Friday and Saturday is going to be very difficult, so today I thought was very important to get off to a good start and try to make as many birdies as you can today because the next couple days it's going to be very difficult," he said.
Spieth said that he had been impressed by "somebody who's splitting bunkers at about 380 yards and just two-putting for birdie on five or six of the holes when there's only two par-5s.
"I don't have that in the bag, so I've got to make up for it with ball-striking.
"I've played enough golf with him to where I believe in my skill set that I can still trump that crazy ability that he has."
Johnson's seven-under 65 gave him the first round lead, one clear of a group of six led by Scotland's 1999 champion Paul Lawrie, who warmed the hearts of the home fans, most of whom were wisely well wrapped up to counter the elements.
Lawrie was joined on that mark by Australian shotmaker Jason Day, South African veteran Retief Goosen, Danny Willett of England and Americans Robert Streb and Zach Johnson.
Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, looked set to join his American namesake atop the rankings, but he took a bogey at 17.
Still, he now feels that at 39 he has the right mindset to challenge for titles on links courses.
"I've embraced the fact that you don't have to be perfect. You've just got to try to hit that ball solid. Solid shots usually pan out," he said.
"They may not be phenomenal, but I hit solid shots. I don't know, I'm just getting more and more experienced. I don't want to be cliché here, but that's the truth."
Woods easily bettered Spieth and Johnson in the gallery stakes, but his play, sadly for him, was far from being up to scratch and some of the fans started drifting away .
The former world number one, mired in the worst slump of his career, limped out in four over 40 at which point he was next to last in the standings.
He finally bagged a birdie at 14 to give himself some hope and came in with a 76 that leaves him with a big battle on his hands just to make the cut.
There was heartache too for Tom Watson, the 65-year-old, five-time former champion playing in the Open for the 38th and final time.
He went out in a handsome 35, but three double bogeys down the back nine saw him resigned to a 76 that makes his goal of making the cut nigh on impossible.
Others in with good scores were the 2010 champion at St Andrews, Louis Oosthuizen, and fellow South African and former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, who both had 67s.
With conditions far more testing in the afternoon, the late starters found it tough going.
Champion in 2013 Phil Mickelson had a 70, England's top hope Justin Rose a 71 and last week's Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler a 72.Collated first round scores in the 144th Open Championship at St Andrews on Thursday:
(GBR and IRL unless stated, par 72):
65 - Dustin Johnson (USA)
66 - Zach Johnson (USA), Retief Goosen (RSA), Paul Lawrie, Danny Willett, Jason Day (AUS), Robert Streb (USA)
67 - Kevin Na (USA), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Jordan Spieth (USA), Jordan Niebrugge (a) (USA)
68 - Marc Warren, Matt Jones (AUS), David Howell, Greg Owen, Luke Donald
69 - Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Dunne (a), Branden Grace (RSA), David Lingmerth (SWE), Romain Langasque (a) (FRA), Anirban Lahiri (IND)
70 - Oliver Schniederjans (a) (USA), Steven Bowditch (AUS), Paul Kinnear (a), Webb Simpson (USA), Anthony Wall, Marc Leishman (AUS), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Adam Scott (AUS), Greg Chalmers (AUS), Marcel Siem (GER), Stewart Cink (USA), Rikard Karlberg (SWE), Tyrrell Hatton, Phil Mickelson (USA), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Paul Casey, Alexander Levy (FRA
71 - Ross Fisher, Ryan Palmer (USA), Martin Kaymer (GER), Geoff Ogilvy (AUS), Graham Delaet (CAN), John Daly (USA), Justin Rose, Ernie Els (RSA), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Sandy Lyle, Kevin Kisner (USA), Lee Westwood, Brooks Koepka (USA), Scott Arnold (AUS), Ashley Chesters (a), Matt Kuchar (USA), Bubba Watson (USA), James Morrison, Harris English (USA), Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN), Brett Rumford (AUS), Brendon Todd (USA), Cameron Tringale (USA)
72 - Francesco Molinari (ITA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Charley Hoffman (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Pelle Edberg (SWE), David Duval (USA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Mark O'Meara (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA), Eddie Pepperell, Rickie Fowler (USA), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Patrick Reed (USA), Richie Ramsay, Graeme McDowell, John Senden (AUS), Ryan Fox (NZL), Hunter Mahan (USA), Andy Sullivan, Jamie Donaldson, Carl Pettersson (SWE), Russell Knox, Padraig Harrington
73 - Koumei Oda (JPN), Robert Dinwiddie, Matteo Manassero (ITA), Daniel Berger (USA), Danny Lee (NZL), Shane Lowry, David Lipsky (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Jason Dufner (USA), Brian Harman (USA), Matt Every (USA), Darren Clarke, Gunn Yang (a) (KOR), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), J.B. Holmes (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter, Morgan Hoffmann (USA), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Shinji Tomimura (JPN)
74 - Byeong-Hun An (KOR), Joost Luiten (NED), David Hearn (CAN), Ben Curtis (USA), Todd Hamilton (USA), Ben Martin (USA), Scott Hend (AUS), Russell Henley (USA), Jonathan Moore (USA), Alister Balcombe (a), Marcus Fraser (AUS), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Bernhard Langer (GER), Mark Young, George Coetzee (RSA), Victor Dubuisson (FRA), Yuta Ikeda (JPN), Ryan Moore (USA)
75 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Thomas Aiken (RSA), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Tadahiro Takayama (JPN), Tom Lehman (USA), Jonas Blixt (SWE), Keegan Bradley (USA), Adam Bland (AUS), Romain Wattel (FRA), Bill Haas (USA), Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), James Hahn (USA)
76 - Tiger Woods (USA), Daniel Brooks, Tom Watson (USA), Taichi Teshima (JPN), Tom Gillis (USA), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Raphael Jacquelin (FRA)
77 - Gary Boyd, Rod Pampling (AUS), Scott Strange (AUS)
78 - Justin Leonard (USA), Kevin Streelman (USA)
79 - Jaco Van Zyl (RSA), Hiroshi Iwata (JPN)
80 - Mark Calcavecchia (USA), Liang Wen-Chong (CHN)
82 - Ben Taylor (a)
83 - Nick Faldo