Scot Colin Montgomerie’s return to The Open got off to a nightmare start on his home course of Royal Troon with a double-bogey six at the first.
The 53-year-old, a runner-up in majors four times at the peak of his career but who had to come through final qualifying just to get here, paid the penalty for dumping his pitching wedge approach in the front bunker.
A plugged lie meant he failed to escape at the first attempt, had to come out backwards into the rough from where he chipped to two feet for a six on the gentle 370-yard opening hole.
Playing partners Luke Donald, a late entry after the withdrawal of South African Jaco van Zyl, and Australian Marc Leishman both birdied from 12 feet and eight feet respectively.
The first tee grandstand was packed for to see the first group go off at 6.35am with Montgomerie, playing in the championship for the first time since 2010, given the honour of hitting the first shot.
“The goal is to make the cut and walk down the 18th fairway on Sunday,” he told Sky Sports just before he teed off.
Montgomerie missed a 35-foot birdie attempt at the second but holed from 15 feet at the next two holes to repair the early damage and return to level par.
Leishman bogeyed the second but then holed a putt from off the back of the third green to get back to one under – but he was already trailing Sang-hee Lee, who birdied his first two holes.
However, he caught the South Korean with his third birdie of the day at the par-five fourth when he splashed out of a bunker to a couple of feet.
Hampshire’s Scott Gregory, the 2016 Amateur champion, got his Open debut off to a dream start with an eight-foot birdie putt at the first.
Montgomerie’s approach at the par-three fifth to five feet was a reminder of days gone by but just when he seemed to be back in the swing of things he missed the short, curling putt to remain at level par.