Ian Poulter happy with first round at the Open

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The Independent Online

England's Ian Poulter admitted he would have been disappointed had he not finished under par having played so well without creating many chances in his first round of the 140th Open.

The Ryder Cup star's two birdies at the par-three 16th and 17th ensured he finished one under with a 69, leaving him satisfied there is plenty more to come over the next three days.

"I'm happy with the finish," said the 35-year-old.

"It would have been disappointing to finish today over par with the shots that I executed on the golf course.

"I couldn't have asked to hit the ball any better. There were a couple of par saves but apart from that it was pretty flawless.

"The way I've played and the shots I've hit - and the tough shots I've hit - I'm very happy.

"I definitely think I've got a chance if I play like I did today.

"I don't feel the need to go to the range to do any work."

Poulter was four behind early leader Thomas Bjorn and the Englishman was not surprised someone had carded a 65 - he was just frustrated it was not him.

"If I had holed a few putts today I would have felt pretty happy walking off the golf course five under par to be honest," he added.

"I think I had my chances to get to that number. I actually felt it (a 65) was there."

Compatriot Paul Casey, who was disappointed with his four-over 74, revealed he has been struggling with a problem with the big toe on his right foot and is scheduled to have an MRI scan after the Open.

"I've got an MRI next week because my right toe has been extremely painful for three months and has caused a lot of issues with the swing because I'm putting all my weight on my heels," he said.

"The game has not been where I wanted it and that might be a big part of it.

"I've had blood tests and x-rays - it wasn't gout as I seriously thought it might be.

"At first I thought it was a bite because I was in Arizona and it became swollen and I couldn't bend it.

"I've tried to have it manipulated to get some movement in the toe; maybe it's arthritis, I don't know."

Considering his difficulties, the 33-year-old was pleased to have got round as well as he did.

"I made too many mistakes out there but having said that it was probably the best ball-striking round I've had in three months," he added.

"A couple of times I missed it on the wrong side not being as sharp as I should have been and I didn't make any putts but I have to take some positives out of it because it was my best round for a few months."

Luke Donald hoped to make better use of the welcome he got from a crowd acknowledging the world number one playing on home soil.

The Hemel Hempstead-born 33-year-old, who bases himself in the United States, carded a one-over 71 in the group behind favourite Rory McIlroy.

"You hear a few shouts from the crowd, 'number one' and 'congrats' and stuff like that, and you try to draw from all the good stuff that got you to number one," he said.

"Certainly there was a lot more applause onto tees; I think people [were] appreciating the good golf I've been playing lately.

"You try to use the energy of the crowd to your advantage but it was tricky and the conditions weren't easy.

"The wind at times was very gusty but I felt like I played a pretty solid round, other than some missed opportunities on the greens.

"I had three or four lip-outs today, a few other opportunities that went amiss.

"It really could have been a very good round, although 71 is still solid, but certainly it could have been a little bit better if I'd had the putter going."

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who recovered from an outward 38 with three birdies coming home for a level-par 70, was happy he was able to drag his round back having done little wrong to be three over at the turn.

"You've got to be so patient around here because you can hit good shots and it just runs off into the rough," said the 37-year-old from Bathgate, playing in only his fourth Open in 12 years.

"Once you're in the rough you can't attack the flags so you're going to be hitting it to 20, 30, 40 feet a lot.

"There were a couple of loose shots on the front nine and I actually didn't play that well on the back nine - I drove it a bit poorer but hit my irons well and hit a lot of good putts."

Compatriot Martin Laird had a more erratic round of 72 which included a double-bogey six, three bogeys and three birdies.

"Nothing plays as hard as last year at St Andrews but it's tough out there and I struck the ball well," said the Glasgow-born 28-year-old.

"I'm most pleased with how I controlled myself out there because I can get impatient, it's an easy thing to do.

"Even at two over around this course it is not something where the scores are going to run away.

"If you put in one round around par you never know what can happen."