Brown's Open struggles; other Kiwis fare better

SOLID SHOWING: New Zealand's Mark Brown in action at the 142nd British Open at Muirfield.
SOLID SHOWING: New Zealand's Mark Brown in action at the 142nd British Open at Muirfield.

New Zealand golfer Mark Brown will probably need to shoot even-par or better in tonight's second round if he wants to feature at the business end of the British Open, but his compatriots are faring much better across the Atlantic Ocean.

Brown, the only Kiwi in the field, carded a six-over par 77 in the first round at Muirfield in Scotland this morning (NZT) to lie in a share of 112th place.

If scoring proves as difficult as it was today, the cut mark could be around six-over par, meaning Brown will need a significantly better day if he's to receive a pay cheque this week.

The Wellingtonian bogeyed the tough par-four first but regrouped with three straight pars, followed by one of his two front-nine birdies at the par-five fifth.

The 38-year-old gave that stroke back immediately, bogeying the par-four sixth and par-three seventh, before dropping a birdie at the par-five ninth as he made the turn.

At that stage he was inside the top 30 but his round unravelled when he triple-bogeyed the par-four 12th, then dropped shots at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.

His lone birdie on the back nine came with a two at the par-three 16th.

American Zach Johnson, a former US Masters champion, leads veteran compatriot Mark O'Meara and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello by one shot after shooting a five-under par 66.

It will be a quick turnaround for Brown, with an early tee time for the second round, starting at 9.28pm today (NZT).

In the United States, in-form Steve Alker has backed up his win in the Utah Championship with an excellent first round at the second-tier Tour's Midwest Classic in Kansas.

Fresh from his first title in four years, Alker carded a four-under par 67 at the Nicklaus Golf Club at Lions Gate to be in a share of fifth place.

Fellow Kiwi Danny Lee is also nicely positioned at four-under, just two shots off the pace being set by Americans Ben Martin and Chris Smith, and South African Tyrone Van Aswegen.

The news is not so good for Tim Wilkinson, who opened with an even-par 71 to share 78th.

Elsewhere in the US, world No 1 amateur Lydia Ko has made a tidy start to the Marathon Classic on the LPGA Tour in Ohio.

The 16-year-old opened with a two-under par 69 at the Hyland Meadows Golf Club to share 19th place after the first round.

Ko, No 18 in the overall world rankings, will begin the second round four shots back from American leader Alison Walshe, who opened with a six-under 65.

Ko was typically consistent in her opening round; her only dropped shot came at the par-four 11th hole.