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At the end of the day, there's always a pub

It's nice to know that even at a major championship as refined and historic as the Open Championship, guys still talk about the same things they talk about everywhere.

Beer. Wine. Cigars.

Ghosts in the attic. Swollen glands. Hangovers.

Maybe it's the aroma of fried cod in the heavy air that does it.

By the time Sunday afternoon arrives, likely wind-blown and nervous, the light-hearted chatter will be gone with the ferries that are constantly sailing to France from nearby Dover and Ramsgate. But the first day of the Open Championship had a nice locker room feel to it.

Mark Calcavecchia, who has such a passion for bowling that he has his own lanes in his house, sounded like a Hallmark card in the way he talked about his love of this event, which he won in 1989. He has bad feet, a rounding body and spends his golf days now riding carts on the Champions Tour, but he promised to keep hopping the Atlantic each July until his exemption expires in nine years.

Calc likes to hang out, drinking beer with the locals, which was easy to do since he played only five practice holes before the tournament began. He critiqued the local brews - "I wasn't fond of that John Smith's. That was pretty gross," he said - and plans to stick with his major championship routine after opening with a 69 on a dangerous Royal St. George's layout.

"I'll have a few beers and a glass of wine or two, just like always. I enjoy myself," said Calc, who didn't go looking for a gym when he arrived.

Dustin Johnson was headed home for a nap after he hit the day's most spectacular shot - an ace on the 161-yard, par-3 16th hole. It was part of a birdie-birdie-ace-birdie run that turned a lousy day into a good one.

He explained that the yardage, complicated by a strong right-to-left wind, was "a perfect wedge for me." It's a perfect 6-iron for the average golfer.

Johnson then excused himself to go rest, hoping the antibiotics would kick in, showing the swollen glands in his neck that made him look like a squirrel hoarding acorns.

The leader was Thomas Bjorn, an example of golf's cruel sense of humor. He was the last man in the field, invited after Vijay Singh bowed out, and it was here eight years ago that the Dane's best chance to win a major championship vanished when he took three from a bunker on the 70th hole, handing the Claret Jug to Ben Curtis.

It was a wicked collapse for a man who has talked often about the demons that occasionally take up residence in his psyche. Perhaps it comes with the territory, given that Hamlet - another Dane - died of a poisoned sword.

"I've been very uncomfortable on the golf course for a long time," said Bjorn, whose father passed away two months ago. "(Thursday) was a massive step in the right direction for me."

The pairing of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler isn't quite a bromance, but they're buddies dating to the 2007 Walker Cup matches when they first played against each other. Both play golf with a bounce and Fowler, a classic California kid with a dirt-bike racing background, seems to relish playing links golf.

The worst thing Fowler did Thursday was debut a black and white rain jacket that BBC announcer Peter Alliss said looked as if it had been attacked by seagulls.

Fowler soaked in the love McIlroy was getting from the galleries, saying, "It has the feeling like he's a hero over here now."

McIlroy started slowly in his first event since his record-setting win at the U.S. Open, with two bogeys in his first three holes. He dismissed any talk of an emotional hangover but, when pressed, admitted he'd probably had "three, four or five" traditional hangovers since his win at Congressional.

Then there was pony-tailed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, 47, who opened with 66 then planned to visit the merchandise tent with his son to buy both of them a logoed Open Championship shirt as a souvenir.

"I'm a fan of the Open, too," he said.

In the evening, Jimenez, golf's version of "The Most Interesting Man In The World" of beer commercial fame, said he would have a cigar and a glass or two of the rioja - Spanish wine - he prefers. That doesn't change, regardless of what he shoots.

"I try to live my life and enjoy myself," Jimenez said. "I think people ought to do the same thing."

Stay thirsty, my friend.

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