A birdie-eagle finish had Colin Montgomerie smiling yet again today when he returned to the European tour after his Ryder Cup heroics.
Montgomerie was trailing seven shots adrift of the first round leaders in The Heritage at Woburn, but birdied the 356-yard 17th and then holed a 35-foot putt from just off the green at the 514-yard last.
It meant a one under par 71 and the 41-year-old Scot, needing to finish in the top 20 to have a chance of qualifying for next week’s American Express world championship in Ireland, will resume tomorrow only four behind Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, Australian Nick O’Hern and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.
Only three more of the Ryder Cup team are in action this week.
David Howell also shot 71, while Padraig Harrington had a 72 and Ian Poulter came back down to earth with a real bump, managing only a 77.
“Rubbish,” said Poulter. “The gas tank was empty. I had no touch and couldn’t find my rhythm. It was difficult for me all day.
“I was trying hard, but it was just not happening. With jet lag and the champagne I had a dull head and it was difficult for me all day.
“I didn’t feel all right, I didn’t hit any good shots and it adds up to a rubbish score.”
Poulter needs to climb one place from his present 21st on the Order of Merit to qualify for next week, but requires a massive improvement just to survive the halfway cut now.
Two years ago Harrington won the dunhill links championship seven days after the Ryder Cup victory at The Belfry.
He still has hopes of a repeat, but said: “I just wasn’t sharp today. I struggled and did some crazy things.”
Not as crazy as Surrey player Zane Scotland, however. He went to the wrong tee at the start of his round, got back to where he should be four minutes late and was penalised two strokes.
If he had been another 60 seconds late Scotland would have been disqualified. The 22-year-old former England amateur international, invited to take part in the event only on Tuesday, finished with a 76.