Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal still had a chance to make his 22nd appearance at The Open despite three late bogeys in his first round of the 36-hole qualifying event at Sunningdale today.
The 46-year-old Spanish star came out of the blocks superbly to reach five under par after 14 holes, but had to settle for a two-under 67 on the New Course.
A total of 96 players were battling for 10 spots at Royal Lytham next month and Olazabal still found himself in a tie for seventh as he turned his attentions to the more famous Old Course.
“It’s disappointing and just a shame. You need a bunch of birdies,” he said.
“But that’s the story these days. I see sparks of good play, but I’m letting too many shots leak away.”
Clear early leader was England’s James Morrison with a brilliant six-under 63.
He was off in the third group before 7am, but setting his alarm for 4.15 hardly mattered to the 27-year-old – he had been woken up “three or four times” by his 12-day-old son Finley.
Morrison, yet to play The Open, began his second round with another birdie - his eighth in 19 holes – and at that point led by four from a group which included Colin Montgomerie.
Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain two years ago, who had his 49th birthday on Saturday, still had two holes of his opening round to go.
Former cup team-mate David Howell also stood three under, as did Ross Fisher, a member of his side at Celtic Manor.
Montgomerie was still in a tie for second as he signed for a three-under 66 on the New Course, where he made it through two years ago with a record-equalling 62 - and where he finished third in the British Youths Championship 30 years ago.
“I just need to do something similar or better this afternoon,” he said. “I’m playing okay, but I putted poorly.”
In spite of that assessment Montgomerie then went off to change his driver - after first of all checking that he was allowed to do so midway through the event
The eight-time European number one explained: “That was a fading course. There is a draw bias on the other one.”