Lothians star Stephen Gallacher was bracing himself for a “battle of survival” in today’s second round of the 144th Open at St Andrews.
With a yellow weather warning having been issued, conditions were set to be testing on cut day in the game’s oldest major.
Earlier in the week Gallacher looked as though he was going to be on the good side of the draw today with a morning time.
But, following a change in the forecast, there was a chance he’d be heading out in heavy rain.
“It looks as though it is going to be just a battle of survival in the second round as the forecast is terrible,” said the 40-year-old after his opening one-over-par 73.
“I know how to handle bad weather on this course, but it just depends how bad it gets. If the wind is blowing up to 25-30mph, as is being forecast, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
The three-times European Tour winner was kicking himself after letting a good start slip over the closing stretch.
He birdied three of the first five holes and had only given one shot back before signing for three bogeys in the final six holes.
“It was a game of halves,” he said. “You score as low as you can going out because you knew it’s going to be tough coming back in.
“I had plenty of chances out there and left a few. I hit a couple of errant drives at the end, just in the bunkers and easy bogeys.
“You never know, though, a good score tomorrow could peel you right up the field.”
Paul Lawrie took pride of place among the six-strong Scottish contingent as he opened with a 66 to sit one behind leader Dustin Johnson.
The 46-year-old, who won the Dunhill Links on this course 14 years ago, held the outright lead after getting to seven-under before dropping his only shot of the day at the 17th.
“I’m very pleased with this start, having managed to take advantage of calmish conditions,” said Lawrie.
“But it’s only the first round and there’s a long, long way to go. I’m not even thinking about Sunday yet. Right now I’m thinking about my lunch as I’m pretty hungry.”
He needs to repeat his 1999 win at Carnoustie to spare having to use up the second and final invitation for his new match-play event on the European Tour at Murcar Links in a fortnight’s time.
“As it stands, I need to invite myself to my own tournament, which I will do, obviously,” he said, laughing. “But I think I might get in without needing to do that if I win this week. We announced on Monday that John Daly had accepted an invitation and we’re all very excited about that.
“Mike Loggie of Saltire Energy, the title sponsor, is a big fan of John, who hasn’t played in Aberdeen before, I don’t think, so he can’t wait to meet him and play with him.”
Marc Warren, whose wife Laura is an Edinburgh girl, backed up Lawrie as the home challenge got off to a solid start yesterday.
Coming off the back of a strong finish in the Scottish Open at Gullane, the 34-year-old signed for a 68 to sit just outside the top ten. “It was as good as it gets, I think, at the Open at St Andrews,” he said. “I’m delighted to be under par. Conditions were tough, getting tougher as the day went on, and the back nine was a brutal finish there – 17 was almost playing a three-shotter when we were on it. I was delighted to get out of there with a par at 17 and 18.”
Sandy Lyle, the 1985 winner, opened with a one-under-par 71 using a hickory putter while Russell Knox marked his debut in the event with a 72.
Morningside-based Richie Ramsay also had to settle for a level-par round that included a visit to Hell Bunker at the 14th which resulted in a 7.
“I haven’t really helped myself today,” he said. “Level par is okay. You really want to be under par, even one or two under today would have been a pretty good score.”
Hailing Lawrie’s start, Gallacher said: “I’m not surprised at all, he’s been playing well for a couple of months now and he’s a great Open player. Apart from winning it he’s had some good results and he’s used to this weather too.”