Shane Lowry took pride in his battling qualities after recovering from a nightmare start to the 150th Open at St Andrews.

Lowry drove into a bush on the second hole to run up a double-bogey six and dropped another shot on the fourth, but recovered to post an opening level-par 72.

"I got off to the worst possible start and fought back well," the 2019 champion said. "After a bad tee shot on the second I didn't really do much wrong after that. I'm pretty happy with how I'm playing.

"I'm not down in the dumps by any means about my day. It's not the end of the world. It's not middle of the field. It's better than middle of the field.


"What's going to win this tournament, I have no idea. The course is only getting firmer and it's as firm as I've ever seen anything.

"I'm hitting three iron down the last there. It's 350 (yards) to the pin and you're hitting three iron; I've never seen a golf course like that. If I can shoot a couple of scores in the 60s the next couple of days, I can be thereabouts on Sunday."

American Cameron Young held the clubhouse lead after a flawless 64, with Lowry's Ryder Cup team-mate and 2014 champion Rory McIlroy two shots off the pace.

"Look, I know I'm a long way behind Rory," Lowry said. "Cameron Young shot eight under, pretty good scores. That doesn't mean 20 under is going to win around here this weekend.

"I think 12 to 14 under par would be a pretty good mark."

Told that would mean he needed to shoot at least three 68s, Lowry added: "I'll take it and go home and sit down for the weekend."