• Martin Inglis described the scene on a perfect morning
• Loud cheers and applause greeted the 53-year-old
THE OPEN | ROYAL TROON
It was the most perfect morning at Royal Troon for the start of the 145th Open Championship – but it was far from the perfect start for home favourite Colin Montgomerie.
Taking my seat in the stand on the first tee at 6.02am – Montgomerie’s tee time was 6.35am – around 20 people were already in their places. “I didn’t think this many people would be out of their bed this early,” a marshal said to me.
“We’re all here to see Monty,” came the response from a spectator in the row in front of me. That was indeed the case.
If the marshal was surprised to see 20 people in the stand, by 6.20am he was frantically addressing his colleague to tell him where the odd one or two seats were. After some jostling for the final seats, by 6.24am the stand was full.
New starter David Lancaster was in position, leaning up against his starter’s box before mouthing ‘Hello’ and giving a little wave to presumably his family in the front row of the stand and, at 6.30am, the players arrived on the tee.
Luke Donald was first, then Marc Leishman – both of whom received warm applause – and finally Montgomerie, where applause turned into loud cheers and a cry of ‘Come on Monty!’ He turned around and acknowledged – no doubt taken aback by amount of fans in their seats.
The fans weren’t just confined to the stand on the first tee either. Many were lining the fairway and there were also a handful on Troon beach, conveniently timing their early morning dog walks to coincide with the start of proceedings.
When it reached 6.35am, the usual joke and chat between the three players and caddies had ceased and Lancaster cleared his throat. “Welcome to the 145th Open Championship. On the tee from Scotland, Colin Montgomerie.”
Loud cheers and that shout of ‘Come on Monty!’ came again. He acknowledged once more and, after a few seconds, looked over again as if to say ‘right, you can be quiet now’.
Maybe the Scot was feeling the nerves – because it wasn’t the start he’d planned - as his iron shot off the tee was further left than he would’ve liked. I exited the stand and, by the time I'd walked down the steps, it was less than half full. Monty fever?
With his second shot, he found the front left bunker and it took two attempts to get out – eventually choosing to go left – before an excellent chip ensured he headed to the second tee with just a double-bogey.
On the most beautiful of mornings at Royal Troon, the 145th Open Championship is well and truly underway.