Solid Aaron Rai off to a good start with Richard Mansell close behind

Wolverhampton’s Aaron Rai marked his Open Championship debut with a fine display on day one.

The 26-year-old carded a level par round of 70 on the testing links course at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, which left him six off the lead.

And his fellow Midlander, Burntwood’s Richard Mansell could also be proud of his opening day efforts as he finished two over par.

Rai went into the contest with some major experience behind him having played the US Open and the US PGA but this was his first taste of Open action and some early nerves won’t have been helped when he bogeyed the opening hole.

But he settled as he picked up pars at the second and third before sinking a birdie putt at the fourth. A run of bogey, birdie, bogey left him one over after seven holes before he closed out the front nine with successive pars.

Rai then produced some solid golf on the back nine, picking up pars on the 10th, 11th and 12th before a birdie at the 13th dragged him back to level par.

Five successive pars then capped a pleasing day for the former Wolverhampton Grammar School pupil.

Mansell was making not just his Open debut, but also his major bow in his first year on the European Tour.

Among the early starters, Mansell reeled off seven successive pars before dropping a shot at the eighth.

A double bogey at the 10th left him three over but he hit back with successive birdies at the 14th and 15th. He dropped another stroke at the 17th before a par at the last for a round of 72.

Rai was first out today at 6.35am with Mansell teeing off at 12.09pm.

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