Montgomerie gets The 145th Open underway
In perfect conditions for good scoring Colin Montgomerie got play under way today in The 145th Open at Royal Troon.
The stand at the 1st tee was already full by the time Montgomerie and his playing partners, Luke Donald and Marc Leishman, prepared to tee off at 6.35am, and the welcome they received was warm, to say the least.
For Montgomerie, who hasn’t played in The Open since 2010, it was like a return to old times. The fans were out in force and Alastair McLean, the caddie who was with him when he won a record eight European Tour Orders of Merit, was on his bag.
With the sun shining and with just a hint of a sea breeze, Montgomerie didn’t get the start he had been hoping for. After finding light rough with his opening shot, he found a greenside bunker with his second. Unable to get out with his first attempt, he was forced to play out sideways before getting up and down in two for a dispiriting double bogey. Donald and Leishman both had birdies.
These were early days, however. A par at the 2nd settled what nerves Montgomerie had and back-to-back birdies – courtesy of a couple of putts from around 15 feet – at the 3rd and the 4th put him back on track. He then added another for good measure at the 6th to move below par for the first time. The omens were good. And by the time he was stepping on to the 10th tee, they were even better after birdies at the 8th and 9th took him into a share of the lead, on three under par.
Among the early front runners was Sanghee Lee, of South Korea, who had three birdies in his first four holes to move to three under par. What Sandy Lyle, playing in The Open for a fortieth time would have given for such a start. The 1985 Champion Golfer of the Year was two over par after three, having bogeyed his opening two holes.
For the players setting off early, it was a case of making hay while the sun shone. As with all campaigns, however, these were the early skirmishes in what should prove to be a fascinating four days of competition.