South Africa ‘A’ defeat leaves Lions with plenty to ponder; British Open day one

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

The 149th British Open Championship at St George’s Golf Club gets underway today. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The 149th British Open Championship at St George’s Golf Club gets underway today. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The Springboks, in the guise of the South African ‘A’ side, landed a significant blow prior to the first Lions Test in 10 days’ time. The Lions will need to take the 17-13 defeat on the chin and learn from it. Gerry Thornley writes: “one hopes they’ve kept some of their powder dry and, on the plus side, there were good games from Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Anthony Watson”. Alun Wyn Jones is set to resume the captaincy of the Lions from his stand-in replacement Conor Murray after his Lazarus-like recovery from the dislocated shoulder he sustained two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Defending champion Shane Lowry comes in a little under the radar but with the perfect game for links as he aims to defend his British Open title over the next four days. Jon Rahm, rightly, is the favourite but, links being links, the nature of the beast is such that outside factors - predominantly the wind - come into play. Check out the first round tee times here. In his column this morning, Dave Hannigan explains why Phil Mickelson’s entanglement with illegal gambling should be a bigger deal.

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