Double Senior Major Champion Colin Montgomerie's quest to become the second man after Gary Player to win all three Senior Majors in a season got off to a solid start at the Senior Open Championship at Porthcawl, but he was overshadowed by a near perfect round from Bernhard Langer.
The 51 year old Scot was not able to find the sort of sparkling form that has seen him win the last two Senior Majors in the US, but still managed to card a respectable one over par 72 in Glamorgan, as Wales hosts its first Open Championship.
Despite some of the high profile members of the field predicting some low scoring this week, Thursday morning proved particularly testing, with Monty himself only picking up the two birdies in his 18.
However, the day belonged to another giant of the European Tour, Langer, who took the clubhouse lead with a sparkling round of 65.
Langer looked in great control as he stole a march on American Bob Tway who held the advantage for much of the day after a four under round of 67 and recovered from his first bogey on 16 to birdie 17 and 18.
Welshman Ian Woosnam, the obvious home favourite, will also feel he’s still in contention after a round of 73 left him two over, one behind Montgomerie.
Woosie started out looking a little lost but came home in 35 to delight the home crowd. Fred Couples also battled back to shoot an even par 71 despite taking an eight on the par five sixth.
There is much expectation about Montgomerie’s presence in town, with the Scot always a popular figure in Wales.
Although everyone is talking about the prospect of the Scot matching Player’s achievements of 1988, Monty believes he is most at home on American style courses.
“I just have to really enjoy myself,” said Montgomerie. “This has never really been my sort of course if I’m honest with you. If I was to be brutally honest, I don't have a very good record in the Open Championship. Although I was second once.
“But I do prefer the American style of courses. This is guesswork and I'm not very good at guessing. So I've got to go back to the poker tables and guess a bit more and see how I go tomorrow.”
Montgomerie’s sentiments about the conditions at Royal Porthcawl were echoed by fellow Scot Andrew Oldcorn, who fared very well in his first round, posting a two under par 69.
“Many of the players have been impressed with what they have seen at Royal Porthcawl, with the coastal links providing wonderful scenery and plenty of challenges," he said.
Oldcorn also praised the setup, which many of the field believe is playing harder than Hoylake did last week for The 143rd Open Championship.
“It’s immense out there, a definite Open Championship course in my view. I know Tom Watson has already said that this week. I didn't play Hoylake last week and he did, so it was interesting to see him and one or two others saying this week was shaping up to be a harder test.”