You need a good dollop of patience to prosper in major championships. Louis Oosthuizen is well aware of that. Since winning The Open back in 2010, the softly-spoken, unassuming South African has been the bridesmaid more times than Liz Taylor’s best friend.

Oosthuizen has been runner-up on six occasions in the majors over the last decade or so and has been second in the last two grand slam events this season. Good things may just come to the man who waits this week, though.

A delightfully assembled six-under 64 at Royal St George’s on day one of The 149th Open had him perched at the summit after a fine performance of purpose and poise which left him a stroke clear of Jordan Spieth. “I've learnt over the years playing major championships that patience is the key thing,” said Oosthuizen,

That particular virtue was in evidence at a bright and breezy Sandwich. Seven straight pars to start was solid. Then came the spectacular as he accelerated away with a surge that just about left scorch marks on the turf.

Six birdies over the next nine holes propelled him to the front, while an expertly executed up-and-down from 80 yards for par on the 18th ensured a bogey-free round as he handed in a card so polished, it could’ve been buffed up with a lint free cloth. 

“In my mind, it was the perfect round,” added Oosthuizen, who finished seven ahead of his playing partners Jon Rahm and the defending champion Shane Lowry. “On this course it's all about hitting the fairway. You're not going to be able to do much from the rough here or the fairway bunkers.”

Oosthuizen’s major misses have been hard to stomach but the 38-year-old is not one to dwell on disappointments “It takes a little while to get over but you have to do it quickly, otherwise it's going to hold you back to perform again,” he added.

When he won The Open back in 2010, the farm-loving Oosthuizen treated himself to an all-singing, all-dancing tractor. It remains a trapping of success that provides a much-needed escape from the cut-and-thrust of life on tour

“I just like to spend time on the farm and get my head away from golf completely,” he said. “I'm always on the tractor. I don't need to play good or bad to be on the tractor.”

In keeping with the farming theme, Spieth certainly made hay while that fiery orb in the sky shone down as the American, once again, embraced and revelled in the links examination. The 27-year-old leaked an early shot on the third but four birdies in a row from the fifth ignited a five-under round of nous and invention.

Spieth’s win in his native Texas earlier this year was his first since his Open triumph in 2017 and ended a prolonged drought that just about had PGA Tour officials landing him with a hosepipe ban. 

During that barren spell of toil and trouble, which saw him slither down the world rankings, Spieth still managed to post some decent finishes in the majors despite being mired in the doldrums.

“I had a chance to win at least one of the majors each year when I felt like I had no idea where the ball was going,” Spieth reflected. "Golf is a game played between the ears, right? When it's not going great, you can certainly lose quite a bit of confidence in it, and that was the first time I've had to really try and build confidence back up. And it takes time.”

Having not played since the US Open a month ago, Spieth admitted he was slightly concerned about the “rust” coming into The Open. Those worries were swiftly banished, though. “Midway through the front nine and getting to the turn under-par was big and I was feeling, ‘hey, we're in the thick of things’,” he said.

Spieth was joined on the five-under mark by lefty, Brian Harman, who birdied four of his first five holes while Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes posted a four-under 66 on his Open debut.

Could he repeat the feat of another debutant, Ben Curtis, who won the Claret Jug here in 2003? Hughes certainly made a decent start to that quest.

Andy Sullivan, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Danny Willett and Jack Senior were flying the cross of St George at St George’s on three-under but it was Oosthuizen, the man from the Rainbow Nation, who was leading the chase for The Open’s pot of golfing gold.