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Jul 19, 2012, 10.42 PM IST
GOLF-OPEN-AMERICANS:Johnson and Watson keep U.S. flag flying high
By Ed Osmond
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England (Reuters) - Americans Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson maintained their country's fine recent form in major championships with excellent opening rounds in the British Open on Thursday.
Johnson's 65 left him one shot behind early leader Adam Scott and Watson, the U.S. Masters champion, carded a 67 to finish level with compatriot Tiger Woods and give the United States a powerful presence at the top of the leaderboard.
Johnson, the 2007 Masters winner, struck seven birdies before bogeying the 17th to leave a slightly sour taste in his mouth.
"I was extremely annoyed," the winner of last week's John Deere Classic told reporters. "I knew I had a lot of work to do this week.
"For the most part there's a lot of momentum coming from last week. But I've forgotten about it.
"Obviously I played well here but it's just one day. I'm going to grab those positive feelings I had last week. But for the most part a new week, completely different elements, completely different golf course."
Johnson is adopting a simplistic approach to the rest of the tournament.
"Quality shots," he said. "That's really all you can do here. I feel it's one of those tournaments where if you hit bad shots it's usually a bad result.
"My whole philosophy this week is avoiding those fairway bunkers and hitting solid shots because I'm putting fine."
Watson made four birdies and only one bogey, enjoying the challenge of using his imaginative left-handed shot-making to tame the Lytham links in calm conditions.
"I'm like a kid, I like to be creative and hit shots," he said. "Over here, playing with your buddies, you can hit all the shots you want to.
"But playing in a major championship you've got to play a lot smarter and I'm not very good at playing smarter."
Watson, using a distinctive pink driver, was more than satisfied with his start.
"It was good, this was the first day we had no wind. It was all about being composed off the tees, making sure I hit fairways. Overall it was a good day."
Americans have won the last three majors, Keegan Bradley claiming the 2011 U.S. PGA Championship, Watson the Masters and Webb Simpson last month's U.S. Open. (Editing by Ed Osmond)
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