The Open 2011: Robert Rock in Open contention again

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Royal St George's
Robert Rock
Rock won his first European Tour title with victory at the Italian Open in June

Staffordshire's Robert Rock is well in contention at the Open Championship again after firing a first round one-under 69 at Royal St George's.

After going to the turn in level par at Sandwich, Rock responded to a dropped shot at 11 by instantly getting it back at the 12th before a birdie at 17.

"I did not actually play that well," he told BBC Sport. "We definitely had the better of the weather this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Northamptonshire's Simon Lilly carded four-over-par 74.

On his Open Championship debut, the 34-year-old from Wellingborough reached the turn in 39 with two dropped shots, then a double at the ninth.

But he then birdied 13, before another dropped shot at the 17th.

"I made a birdie on 17, the toughest hole on the course, when I stuck a four iron to two feet, but I'm still disappointed," Lilly told BBC Sport.

"I thought that round was better than a 74.

"I also made a great par at 18 and was just disappointed to bogey 17, when I got a flier.

"But I very rarely play courses as tough as that. And to come back in level was something to take from it."

Lilly, who had his elder brother, a one-handicapper, on his bag, admitted: "It's hard work but it's fun, especially trying to work out which way the wind is blowing."

Simon Lilly
Lilly carded a four-over par 74 in the first round at Sandwich

Lilly goes out again for his second round in Friday's last group, teeing off at 1611 BST.

As for Rock, he has another civilized tee time on Friday, going out at 1004 BST.

"It's another lie-in," he smiled, with reference to his visa-delayed, jetlagged preparations for last month's US Open debut at Congressional.

"The US Open was good considering the preparation," he said. "But I'm expecting more of this week.

"And it would have been nice to take more advantage of decent conditions

"It was a lot easier and I haven't really played very well for that, but I putted all right, so that was something to take from it."

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