Round 1 Open grades: Top 10 turned it around

SOUTHPORT, England -- The first round of the 146th Open opened with dark gray skies, a howling wind and driving rain. Thirty minutes later the skies lightened, the rain cleared and the wind dropped with every passing hour (without ever quite going away.)

Who best took advantage of conditions (which don't look to be improving for Friday)? And who left himself under threat of a missed cut? It's time for Open grades.

Dustin Johnson

Grade: D-

It's a testimony to his ability on and around the putting surface that he remains in any sort of position to make the weekend because he found only seven of 18 greens in regulation. He'll want to turn that long game around quickly, however, because it's placing far too much pressure on the rest of his skill set, which is clear now that he's failed to break par in his past five rounds of golf.

World ranking: No. 1
Score: 71 (+1)

Hideki Matsuyama

Grade: C+

With a solid round that got off to a sparkling start (birdie-3 at the brutal 448-yard par-4 first), Matsuyama withstood dropped shots at the fourth and sixth holes before three birdies righted the ship. Started 71-73 when he finished T-6 in 2013 at The Open, but since then his pre-cut rounds have been volatile, with at least five shots difference between them. If that trend continues, he needs to go low, rather than high, on Friday.

World ranking: No. 2
Score: 68 (-2)

Jordan Spieth

Grade: A-

Spieth found only five of 14 fairways, but it didn't stop him from completing a bogey-free opening lap. Five birdies helped him to a career-low 18-hole score in Open competition, and he maintained his habit of getting off to a strong start on the links. He's never been over par after 18 holes at an Open and has an average of 68.60 in Round 1. The bad news? He's never shot under par in Round 2 and averages 74.00.

World ranking: No. 3
Score: 65 (-5)

Rory McIlroy

Grade: C+

His first six holes? Capital F for fail. He was 5-over-par through that stretch and staring at a third missed cut in a row. He cut a miserable figure, and onlookers were muttering about desire and hunger. His finish proved he has plenty of both. Three red numbers on the final four holes confirmed the fight back and demand a regrade. Can he push on and win? Unlikely: 19 of the past 20 Open winners were within five of the lead after 18 holes, and McIlroy is six back.

World ranking: No. 4
Score: 71 (+1)

Sergio Garcia

Grade: D

The good news? He finished birdie-birdie, and when he walked between the famous 18th hole grandstands for the first time since he became a major champion, there was a tangible sense of love for one of the gallery's favorite sons. The bad news? The finish was preceded by a pair of 6s at Nos. 15 and 16, which had turned a poor round into a bad one. Those final red numbers changed that only partially.

World ranking: No. 5
Score: 73 (+3)

Jason Day

Grade: B-

Day was hesitant ahead of the first round, talking about small steps and wary of big dreams and adventures. Realistically he was correct because his form this year has been well below the standards set in 2015-16. He didn't pull up any trees on Thursday, but he maintained discipline and didn't play himself out the tournament.

World ranking: No. 6
Score: 69 (-1)

Jon Rahm

Grade: C+

What was a grind until the 17th tee (he'd traded four birdies and four bogeys to be level-par), became a melodrama halfway down the hole when he was initially handed penalty shots for improving his lie. These were later rescinded in the scorer's hut. A bogey-6 became a birdie-4; a poor round of 71 became a promising one of 69.

World ranking: No. 7
Score: 69 (-1)

Henrik Stenson

Grade: C+

There will be some who feel Stenson should be judged on his last effort in The Open, by which standards he clearly failed. But the arbiter who uses such measures might be viewed, at the very least, as a touch harsh. The realistic critic would note that to open his defense with an under-par round represents a solid foundation for the week. It's also a vast improvement on his Thursday 76 at Royal Birkdale in 2008.

World ranking: No. 8
Score: 69 (-1)

Alex Noren

Grade: B+

It was a career-best Open Round 1 effort for the Swede who made his event debut at Royal Birkdale in 2008. On first glance that bow was no more than solid (he finished T-19) but he was T-5 after 54 holes, so he's clearly at home on the course. Playing early he had to withstand some of the worst of the weather, so B+ represents a fair grade.

World ranking: No. 9
Score: 68 (-2)

Rickie Fowler

Grade: D

Fowler wants this so bad, but he's struggling to peak at the right time of the week in this year's majors. At Augusta National he co-led after 36 holes; in the U.S. Open he held a 1-shot advantage on Thursday evening and on Thursday he was 2 under through the turn and primed to attack the vulnerable back nine but limped home in 3 over 39. He plays wind well and he'll need to play it very, very well on Friday if he is to re-establish himself this week.

World ranking: No. 10
Score: 71 (+1)

Justin Thomas' outfit

Grade: B+

Clown or classy? Hagen or horrible? When Justin Thomas emerged from Royal Birkdale's art deco clubhouse wearing a cardigan and tie, opinions were split right across the course. We're going with classy and Hagen-like. A smart throwback that lost out on an A grade because he left the top button undone.

World ranking: No. 13 (for the golfer, not the wardrobe)
Score: 67 (-3)

Tommy Fleetwood

Grade: D-

So tough on Tommy. The local hero rode the wave of Southport affection through the practice days but then turned his head right into the surf on Thursday and was hit hard by a wall of water. Four bogeys, a double-bogey and not one birdie meant the gallery of friends, family and neighbors had very little to cheer. It will require a huge personal effort, and wind-induced carnage for the field, if he is to make the weekend.

World ranking: No. 14
Score: 76 (+6)

Mark O'Meara

Grade: C+

He skewed the opening tee shot of the 146th Open clean off the property, ended up making quadruple-bogey-8, needed 81 swings to cover the course, and we're giving him C-plus?! Oh yes, because he was 11-over-par through 11 holes and feeling the heat. In fact, he'd been feeling very hot (despite the cold morning wind) ever since that errant opening biff ("My day was toast after that first tee shot.") But he didn't quit. So C-plus for the 1998 Royal Birkdale winner.

World ranking: No. 1627
Score: 81 (+11)