You’re never too old for first tee nerves.
With his 43rd Open a few hours away, Sandy Lyle was waking up at one in the morning, his mind full of what could go wrong with the opening shot of this year’s Championship.
He needn’t have worried.
The end score of 75 and four over par wasn’t what the 60-year-old was looking for in almost certainly his last Open but the mid-iron down the fairway on the first and the par that followed was perfectly acceptable. As was his first nine holes.
“The first bunch of holes was good,” said the Scot, who lifted the Claret Jug in 1985.
“I think the opening tee shot went a lot smoother than I thought it would.
“I was nervous last night, never mind this morning. I woke up about 1am and from then I had one eye on the alarm clock. Then your mind starts to think about the opening shot.
“But it was playing pretty docile today. It was a nice way to have the opening tee shot at the Open.
“The crowd was great. I was hoping I’d get away with around 20, with 15 of them being part of my family! It was around 80 per cent full but it was very good, very impressive.
“I was very happy after nine holes at one under par and then I just got in a bit of bunker trouble, so I wasn’t happy with the back nine.
“It was a disappointing 75 but I’ve still got tomorrow to shoot a low score. A couple under might have a chance.”
In the company of Tiger Woods, Russell Knox struggled early on.
Fears that a rewarding three-week spell of golf, which included a win in the Irish Open, had taken a lot out of the Ryder Cup hopeful proved well founded.
The first two holes both produced bogeys and by the time he was through the 10th he was three over.
To Knox’s great credit though, rather than succumbing to fatigue, he fought back well.
An eagle on the 14th was backed up with three pars.
It should have been four but he carelessly three-putted from 20 feet on 18, leaving Stonehaven amateur Sam Locke as top Scot on one over.
Scott Jamieson posted the same as Lyle, a four over par 75. And one Scot who almost certainly won’t be at Carnoustie over the weekend is Grant Forrest.
He endured a frustrating afternoon on the links. Nine bogeys and not a single birdie resulted in a nine over par 80.
“It was just one of those days,” he reflected.
“I didn’t feel as though I played that badly. I didn’t get off to a great start with a couple of three-putts early on and then a couple of wrong club choices.
“Before you know it, you are eight or nine over par. The pins were really tucked away today behind bunkers and if you left it in the wrong place, you had no chance, really.
“I’ll try and go out tomorrow and hit some good shots and hopefully hole a few more putts than I did today.”