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Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:57 UK

Lawrie in hunt after opening 69

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website, with updates on BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 5 live Full coverage details

Lawrie admits to opening shot nerves

By Thomas McGuigan
BBC Sport Scotland at St Andrews

Scotland's Paul Lawrie struck the first ball of the 150th anniversary Open as the opening round got under way in mercifully kind weather conditions.

Wednesday's furious wind and rain, which led to the cancellation of the star-studded Champions Challenge, was replaced by light drizzle just after 0600 BST the following morning.

He was up and out of bed at 0445 and tucked into a plate breakfast, including sausage, bacon and toast.

Lawrie, who turned professional in 1986 and won the Open at Carnoustie 13 years later, birdied the 453-yard par-four second hole to set him on his way.

Paul Lawrie strikes the first ball at St Andrews
Lawrie struck the first ball on Thursday morning at St Andrews

The Scot bogeyed the fourth soon after, but his round included birdies at 14, 16 and 18 as he carded a three under par 69.

"I played nicely again," 41-year-old Lawrie said afterwards. "I was out in level par on the front nine, which was disappointing, because I played quite nicely and missed a few putts.

"But, coming in, if you birdie 16 and 18 then it's a good day.

"The conditions were flat calm; for seven or eight holes, you're not going to get it any easier here.

"Then the rain came on and there were a few showers. It wasn't that great coming in

"It'll be nice to kick on from that and we'll see what happens.

"Three under is still a good score. It's not cock-a-hoop time, but it's a decent start.

"The course is in fantastic condition and I think it's the best any of us have seen it. When there's no wind, this course is not the hardest to get round. Three under is decent but by no means that good a score really.

"I'm going to do the best that I can, take a shot at a time and see what happens."

Lawrie profited from a birdie on the mammoth par five 14th - a whopping 618 yards.

Lengthening the 17th hole has divided opinion among golfers and spectators alike and Lawrie said: "On 17, I hit a driver and tried a little cut. I hit it perfect down the right and had a seven iron, but it came up short and made (par) four."

With fellow Scot Andrew Coltart and American John Daly burning up the course to tie for the lead on six under par, Lawrie knows he will have to hole more putts on Friday to remain in contention.

Andrew Coltart
Coltart was another Scot scoring well on the opening day

"I got a lovely text from one of the team saying 'it would be lovely if you're hitting the first shot and the last on Sunday'," he added. "That's a nice way to think about it." Coltart cut the figure of a contented man following a six under par 66 in the first round of the 139th Open to sit three off the lead.

The 40-year-old, who managed to retain focus on his game rather than fellow pro John Daly's siren trousers, described his first round at the Old Course as "a lot of fun".

"It's great to be playing well, holing putts and the crowd getting behind you," he said.

Coltart, who has two European Tour titles under his belt, was reluctant to say whether he would still be in contention on Sunday to wow the home crowd.

"The world's best players are here and I've shown little good form recently," he said.

"But if I can hit the ball well then we'll see what happens. It's a long way away yet."

Coltart believes St Andrews is suited to long hitters "because of the way they set pins. It was very calm out there".

A passionate Scottish support will be willing on one of their own to continue his impressive form into the weekend.

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see also
Open Championship R4 tee times
17 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods bids for St Andrews treble
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Poor weather hits Champions event
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Veteran Watson relishes Open tilt
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Cink eager to retain Claret Jug
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Caddie criticises Woods's putting
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose partners Woods at St Andrews
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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