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Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Sunday, 18 July 2010 16:22 UK

Andrew Coltart likes being back in the big time at Open

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

Andrew Coltart
Coltart finished five over at his first Open in eight years

By Colin Moffat
BBC Sport Scotland at St Andrews

On Thursday, Andrew Coltart basked in the St Andrews applause as he holed out for a wonderful opening round of 66, finishing the first day of the Open in a share of third place.

Next week, the 40-year from Dumfries will be packing his bag for a Challenge Tour event in Kent as he bids to maintain his playing rights for next season.

"There won't exactly be many spectators down there," he joked after his final round of 76, which left him at five-over-par for the tournament.

"It's obviously a completely different set-up, but you go there with the confidence that you have played all four days at a major championship.

"Tee to green, it was good this week and maybe, with different greens, I might be a little more comfortable. Hopefully, I can try and nick it."

It will be a third Challenger Tour event this season for the one-time Ryder Cup player and he thinks that might be the best route to keeping his card.

"Realistically, I think I have to look at the Challenge Tour. It might be the best opportunity to try and avoid the Tour School.

Tee to green I'm playing as well as I have ever don

Andrew Coltart

"I'm not making any inroads on the main tour, which is frustrating."

The last few years have been something of a struggle for the man who was ranked 408 in the world before his efforts this week.

And he has scrapped his way through the end-of-term Qualifying School to retain his card these last two seasons, carrying his own bag in the process in 2008.

Coltart enjoyed the best of the conditions on Thursday, matching the score of playing partner John Daly, the winner here in 1995.

Without a breath of wind and with the flags as limp as last week's lettuce, the Scot, who does not hit the ball as far as most, plotted his way round the Old Course with great dexterity.

That fabulous round included a putt of nearly 50 feet on the sixth for one of seven birdies, his only dropped shot coming on the short 11th.

However, he was blown away by the fierce gales that saw play abandoned for an hour or so on Friday and suffered the further agony of a migraine attack to shoot 77 and plummet down the leaderboard.

An up and down 74 followed on Saturday.

"A quarter of it was good," Coltart said reflecting on the first Open he had qualified for in eight years.

"It was nice to walk up the 18th at the end and being here is very special.

"But you're here to do a job and to perform so banally is pretty galling really.

Andrew Coltart
Coltart won the Scottish Professional Championship in 1994

"There's no doubt that it whets the appetite, playing with the guys again and playing in front of the crowds, I really enjoyed that."

Coltart was tipped for big things in the mid-1990s, having turned pro in 1991, with BBC golf guru Peter Alliss among the ranks of his admirers.

His appearance at the 1999 Ryder Cup, where he lost out in the singles to Tiger Woods, should have propelled him to greater things, but the affable Scot somehow lost his way.

Prior to this week, his biggest cheque this season was €13,715 for a 22nd-place finish at the Italian Open in May.

"Tee to green, I'm playing as well as I have ever done and I'm happy with the way that's been this week," he explained.

"But it's not felt far away for the last three or four years and, the longer it goes on, the more frustrating it becomes.

"I don't feel that it's far away, but then again I haven't done anything to show that it's close."

Even if he did enjoy a slice of luck with the weather, Thursday demonstrated that Coltart can still rub shoulders with the best.

And the prize-money, while not quite what it could have been, will nudge him a little closer in the quest to keep his card.

The cash will certainly be more than he received for his commentary work for BBC Radio 5Live at the previous two Opens.

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see also
Donald delighted by strong finish
18 Jul 10 |  Golf
Gallacher pleased to be top Scot
18 Jul 10 |  Golf
Cink eager to retain Claret Jug
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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