Two costly double-bogeys hurt Marc Leishman as the Australian began the Open Championship with a disappointing 74 at Royal Troon today.
Leishman, who was in a playoff at St Andrews last year when Zach Johnson won the Open, carded three-over despite making birdies at three of the first four holes.
"There are some doubles out here; hopefully they're the only two I have this week,'' said the man from Warrnambool in western Victoria.
Ironically the double on the par-four 15th hole came from hitting his second shot into what he called "the deepest bunker on the course'' and needing to hit out sideways. Leishman had driven into deep heath and needed to take a penalty drop before that, and in the end he scrambled an up-and-down from almost 50 metres. "If there is such a thing, it was a decent double,'' he said.
After one of his practice rounds, he posted a photograph of that very bunker on Instagram, saying: 'Don't go in this bunker!' Sadly he did not follow his own advice.
But Leishman said he did not feel he was out of the running in the 145th Open. "It was a nice start,'' he said of the three birdies he made in the opening four holes.
"There was basically no wind and those first three or four holes are gettable. The double on nine hurt me and another at the 15th, hit a bad tee shot and it didn't get a whole lot better from there.
"The back nine was playing pretty tough, obviously I'm disappointed with three-over but I feel like it hasn't shot me out of it, especially with the way the conditions are going to be tomorrow. With a good round tomorrow, you can make up a lot of ground.''
The Victorian took a conservative approach, hitting irons off the opening three tees. But by the back nine he and everyone were hitting drivers as the course loops back into the wind.
Colin Montgomerie, who hit the opening tee shot and played in the same group as Leishman, said it was a matter of ''hanging on'' through the back nine at Troon.
"Three-under is par for the front; three-over is par for the back,'' said Montgomerie, who is a member of the Scottish club.
Leishman was unhappy with his putting, but not too negative. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough to have a good final three rounds and hopefully make a run at it.''
Americans made the early running in beautiful scoring conditions as the Open began, with Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed all having a share of the lead as they waltzed through the easier front nine. Watson bombed his driver on to the green and past the flag at the par-four third hole, a 377-yard hit, although he missed his eagle putt.
Later Watson took a triple bogey six at the Postage Stamp, the eighth, after hitting into the one of the deep bunkers surrounding the green.
Most of the Australians were on the course early with Scott Hend (two-under through 10) and Matt Jones (two-under through three) starting well.
Marcus Fraser, the Victorian who has qualified to play at the Olympics, carded a one-over par 72 but was disappointed with his back nine. "The first nine holes I played well like everybody,'' he said.
"But I played awful on the back, it went pear-shaped.''