Tiley takes step up to lead English challenge

One estimation of the sponsorship tsunami that would be unleashed should superstar-in-waiting Rory McIlroy win the Open Championship on Sunday stretched into eight figures. Back in the economically challenged world of the self-confessed journeyman professional, making the cut today could trigger a first-ever sponsor's bonus for Steven Tiley.

The 27-year-old from Kent is in line for a £2,000 payout from the Sports Investment Fund if he reaches the last two rounds. The modest bonus will be welcome but it could be dwarfed by what Tiley could earn in prize money if he continues the form that brought him a 66 on the Old Course yesterday. In his first appearance as a professional in the Open – his only other came as a novice amateur six years ago – Tiley was so nervous on the practice range beforehand that he feared he might miss the ball on the first tee.

But Tiley did no such thing. Six birdies later, with no bogeys on his card, he reached the 18th green as the leading English performer. Given the billing of his illustrious compatriots as title contenders, this was very definitely a tale of the unexpected if it was not for the Open's tradition of having a total unknown on the first-day leaderboard.

Not only was he one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods but also Lee Westwood. Paul Casey had a 69, Justin Rose a 70 and Ian Poulter a 71 but Luke Donald struggled to a disappointing 73. Westwood, who is playing with an injured right calf, was impressive given that he was out in the worst of the conditions in the afternoon.

Westwood has had three top-three finishes in the majors in the last year, dating back to his agonising near-miss at Turnberry. But the 37-year-old has discovered the secret of putting himself in contention and five birdies in a row to close out the front nine was a serious sign of intent. After a lower skimmer into the 17th green, followed by a wave to his manager, Chubby Chandler, to say that, of course, he meant it and had not mis-hit it, Westwood missed his birdie chance there and at the last. Better now than on Sunday.

Tiley, who went to college in the US, turned professional less than three years ago. He first went to play on the Asian Tour. Having got through the Qualifying School he phoned Chandler, who as well as Westwood manages McIlroy and other stars, and asked: "What the hell do I do now?" Chandler has kept an eye out for the lad but missed out on a potential sponsorship deal. Dealing with the heat in the Far East was bad enough but the food was not always to his liking either. "I could have been sponsored by Imodium at the time," he said.

Tiley returned to play on mini-tours back here and now has a place on the Challenge Tour, the feeder circuit to the main European Tour. With every euro crucial towards earning his full tour card Tiley was hesitant to take three weeks off for the Open. First he needed to qualify, which he did after a play-off. "It's almost a lottery getting in the Open but Chubby said I should go and do it," Tiley said. "I'm pleased I took his advice."

Having got here, he felt right at home. Links golf is second nature to him after learning at the Royal Cinque Ports club in Deal, a stern links test. "The shots seem to suit my eye," he said.

Having won the Egyptian Open last October, an unofficial event but featuring such luminaries as Colin Montgomerie, Tiley already has an 88-year-old trophy on his sideboard – now for the oldest of them all, the claret jug?

"I played well today and I'm aiming to do the same tomorrow. Obviously, there is going to be a little bit more pressure and more people watching to see what happens. Today's my best-ever day in golf – but watch this space."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee