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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK
Nothing new but a dramatic day
By Matthew Slater
BBC Sport at the Open

Course officials help Tiger Woods search for his ball at the 1st hole
For an opening day that contained so much drama, there was much that was familiar at the Open on Thursday.

Tiger Woods lost his drive on the first hole of a pro event for the first time and carded a triple bogey to give up his Open favourite tag within five minutes of starting his challenge.

But then, just as he has done so many times before on the biggest stage, the 27-year-old American got his head together and dragged his misfiring game around the course in one-under-par golf for the remaining 17 holes.

"It was a tough round of golf to always be fighting back," Woods said. "But I kept my patience and I really grinded my way around."

Five shots off the lead Woods may be, but that's no deficit at all for an on-song world number one.

Even Colin Montgomerie's withdrawal with a hand injury caused by a fall on the way to breakfast had a feeling of déjà vu about it.

Monty may never have actually stumbled out of an Open before, but he has made a habit out of finding different ways to frustrate his loyal fans.

And by the time the 40-year-old Scot said, through grin-and-bear-it teeth, that he would be back next year "to try again on the home course (Troon)", we knew we had heard this story before.

In fact, at times, the whole day took on a "pop years" kind of feel, as 1980s favourites like Greg Norman and Tom Watson threatened to run away with it.

The 53-year-old Watson slipped back to even par by dropping three shots on the last two holes, but Norman, a whippersnapper at 48, bogeyed only the last to be tied for second at two under.

Watson played a great opening round at last month's US Open too, but Norman has hardly swung a club in anger all year.

When Nick Faldo, who carded a 76, was asked what he thought of his old foe's round, the Englishman said: "Lucky devil, that's what I'm thinking. He's only played three times this year.

"When I get myself a billion-dollar boat, I'm going to be fishing more than playing golf, too."

One shot better off than Norman and in-form American Davis Love is Hennie Otto. What could be a more traditional Open story than the tale of the unknown first-round leader?

Playing in his first Open, the South African came through qualifying to take his place in Thursday's first game. Early starts clearly agree with him, although Friday afternoon's round under the media spotlight might be a very different affair.

While Otto remains an unlikely winner come Sunday, it will take a round of Jerry Kelly proportions to keep him from the weekend's play.

The hapless American carded a seven-over-par 11 at the 1st before running up eight more dropped shots over the remaining holes for a rotten 86.

When asked how he racked up 11 shots on the opening hole, Kelly said: "I made a 30ft putt, man!"

At least a finger injury sustained hacking out of the rough on 17 will spare him further embarrassment on Friday.

Perhaps Thursday's only genuine shocker was the ragged play of defending champion Ernie Els.

The world number two came into the event in sparkling form and determined mood, but the South African's challenge appears to have been blown off course by an old-fashioned Sandwich Bay breeze.

Here's to another mix of the old and the new on Friday.

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