The prolonged celebrations from last Sunday’s Ryder Cup victory may have induced a few hangovers off the course, but there was no residual effect when business on The European Tour resumed with the dunhill links championship at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews.
At the end of a glorious day of golf at three of the world’s greatest links courses, Argentina’s Eduardo Romero led the professional element of the Pro-Am format with a seven under par 65 at Carnoustie.
But Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who claimed a valuable point against Mark Calcavecchia in The Ryder Cup singles at The De Vere Belfry, was one of three players in second place on 66 while another European hero, Thomas Björn, took advantage of the benign conditions at Carnoustie with a round of 67.
Meanwhile Phillip Price also ducked under the 70 mark with a three under par 69 at the Old Course while Colin Montgomerie (70) at Carnoustie and Niclas Fasth (71) at Kingsbarns also broke par.
Romero, at 48, wielded his putter with unerring accuracy as he began his attempt to complete a ‘Tartan Double’. Winner of The Barclays Scottish Open on the West coast of Scotland in July, the popular Argentian had eight birdies and only one bogey in his superb round.
The reason soon became evident. He said: “I only missed one fairway and I think I had only 24 putts. This is my best round at Carnoustie and I am very happy and comfortable with my game."
To complete a great day for Romero, he and his amateur partner, Edinburgh lawyer and Royal and Ancient Committee Member, Neil Crichton, also led the team event with an 11 under par 61. Three teams were locked in second place on ten under par – Harrington and fellow Irishman JP McManus, Angel Cabrera of Argentina with journalist Steve Carr and Jean Francois Remesy of France with Retief Goosen’s brother, Francois.
Harrington, one of the teetotalers on The European Tour, briefly broke his regime on Sunday night but it was business as usual as the Dubliner compiled a solid 66 over a course where par took all the beating during the 1999 Open Golf Championship.
Currently third on the Volvo Order of Merit, Harrington knows he needs victories in the next few weeks to challenge Ernie Els and Retief Goosen for the title of European Number One.
“I’d have to win this week” he observed. “It’s a great situation because I don’t have to worry about winning the Volvo Order of Merit. I just have to concentrate on winning a tournament.”
Jyoti Randhawa of India, back to competitive fitness after breaking his collar bone in a motor bike accident in March, shot the best round of the day, 66, at Kinsbarns to share second place with Harrington and South African Nic Lawrence.
Mikael Lundberg’s 67 at St Andrews was the best of the day at the Home of Golf and that five under par round lifted him into a tie for fifth with Spain’s Santiago Luna.
Of the Ryder Cup players on view, there were some especially warm reactions from the crowds for Montgomerie, Price and the man who holed the winning putt, Paul McGinley.
Montgomerie commented: “I received a lovely welcome today which was very nice and very enjoyable”.