Sergio Garcia declared himself in his best shape at an Open Championship for years after starting with a four-under-par 68 at Royal Liverpool.
The 34-year-old Spaniard is still chasing his first major despite having been in contention on numerous occasions since bursting on to the scene as a precocious teenager.
Garcia’s best Open remains 2007, when he lost in a play-off to Padraig Harrington, but he also has happy memories of Hoylake having finished in a tie for fifth on the Merseyside links in 2006.
Asked if he was in his best mental state at a major for some time, Garcia said: “I don’t know, (but) probably since 2008.
“But, like I said, even on the tough years this championship, it’s different to me. I love it so much.
“After the Ryder Cup it’s my favourite tournament to play. You always come with a different frame of mind here, even if you’re struggling little bit.
“I enjoy the people out there. It almost kind of feels like a Ryder Cup, when people start shouting, ’Come on, lads!’ and things like that.
“Those are things that you don’t hear that often and it’s good to hear this week.
“But it’s only the first day. There’s so many things that can happen out there.
“It would be nice to put myself in a position to have a solid chance on Sunday, like I did a couple of times, and like I did in 2006 here.
“I’m obviously very pleased. Every time you start a major championship and an Open with a four under, you’ve got to be pleased with it.”
Garcia started superbly with birdies at three of his first five holes.
A bogey came at the par-five 10th but the world number nine responded brilliantly by chipping in for a birdie three on the next.
He said: “It was perfect timing. It was one of those things that it was great to be able to do it right after a bogey on a par five, which always stings a little bit.
“Fortunately it went straight in the middle and hit the pin and went in. That was a really nice moment to kind of keep the good momentum going and kind of forget that bogey.”