Thursday, 19 July 2001
Colin Montgomerie headed The European Tour challenge for the 130th Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes with a superb opening 65 to storm to the top of the leaderboard.

The seven time Volvo Order of Merit winner carded six birdies and an eagle three in total in his excellent effort, the first time in 12 Open Championships that the Scot had started with a round in the 60s.

The 38 year old started and finished in style, rolling in a ten footer for birdie on the 206 yard opening hole and repeating the feat at the last from 25 feet to huge cheers from the packed galleries in the stands.

It put Montgomerie three clear of American Brad Faxon in the clubhouse while one shot further back, three European Tour members ended their first rounds on 69, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Paul McGinley and Justin Rose.

For Rose, the two under par effort rekindled memories of his heroics as an amateur in the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, where he finished tied for fourth place.

Three years ago it was the last round which thrust him into the limelight but this time it was the Englishman’s opening round of two under par 69 which caught the eye.

“I’m very happy with that start,” he said. “My overall play was good but I think I was most encouraged by my putting. It has been a bit streaky at times this season but today it felt comfortable and I thought my stroke on the greens was very solid.”

Rose, currently 22nd on the Volvo Order of Merit, played flawless golf on the outward half of the testing Lancashire links course with only one departure from par, that coming at the 557 yard seventh hole where he carded an eagle three to help him to the turn in 33.

More consistency followed on the back nine, with a birdie at the 13th and his only dropped shot of the day at the 15th where his drive unfortunately kicked left into a bunker, added to seven more par figures.

Rose showed his growing determination and confidence at the 16th however, after having dropped a shot at the previous hole, where he pushed his drive into the severe rough to the right of a fairway bunker.

Keeping his composure, the 20 year old chipped out, found the green with his third shot and rolled in a brave 15 footer for par four.

“That was probably the most important putt of the day,” he said. “It’s good to get a bit of momentum going but when you drop a shot the last thing you want to do is drop another one right away. It’s not nice to see you name slip off a leaderboard so to roll that putt in was important.”

Rose had a chance at the last to join Faxon on 68 but his birdie attempt from 20 feet stayed stubbornly on the edge of the hole.

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