Proud Montgomerie delights home fans with level-par 71

Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:48am EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

TROON, Scotland (Reuters) - Colin Montgomerie, boosted by one of the best strokes of his 29-year career, had the home crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he posted a level-par 71 in the British Open first round on Thursday.

The 53-year-old Scot, who is a member at Royal Troon and was given the honor of hitting the first shot of the championship at 0635 local time, briefly led the field after reeling off five birdies in seven holes on the front nine.

The inward half, however, proved a much more difficult test in fresh winds and three bogeys on that stretch halted Montgomerie's progress.

"There were more people out there on the first tee than I imagined and it was fantastic to get their support," said Montgomerie. "It was a great atmosphere."

The eight-times European number one made a nightmare start, double-bogeying the first hole after taking two to get out of a deep sand trap.

"The best shot I hit, probably one of the best shots of my life, was the fourth out of the bunker, away from the hole," said Montgomerie.

"No one in the field would have got the first ball out of there, it was buried in the face of the bunker. The second one fell into a footprint and my footprint is deeper than most... and I hit a great shot to get it out.

"A lot better players than me in the world of golf would have taken a 71 after being two-over at the first... so I'm very proud of myself for hanging on because it would have been easy to score 78, simple."   Continued...

Golf-British Open - Scotland's Colin Montgomerie plays his approach on the second hole during the first round - Royal Troon, Scotland, Britain - 14/07/2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne