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Coltart 'surprised' with low score
By Thomas McGuigan
BBC Scotland in St Andrews
Stephen Gallacher was left to rue a costly late stumble in his first round at the Open as he lost ground on fellow Scots Andrew Coltart and Paul Lawrie.
Gallacher, who finished fourth in last week's Scottish Open, breezed through 15 holes with four birdies.
However, a bogey at the 16th and a double-bogey at the following hole saw him finish on one-under-par.
Lawrie is two strokes better off, while Coltart produced a terrific 66 to trail leader Rory McIlroy by three shots.
Coltart, who last featured in the Open eight years ago, took full advantage of the benign morning conditions and Lawrie, the 1999 champion who was first to tee off at 0630 BST, carded a useful 69.
"When you're four-under with three holes to go you feel as though you've left a few out there," Gallacher told BBC Scotland. "It was a bit of a poor finish."
Gallacher, who won the Dunhill Links at St Andrews in 2004, had been mentioned by several pundits as an outsider for the championship, given his excellent recent run of form.
And that good spell continued until his late blip on the famous Old Course.
"I just put it in the bunker on the left at 16, trying to turn a five iron into the green," he explained.
"I overcooked it really. Then, I hit the rough at 17, didn't get it on the green, then chipped on and three-putted."
However, Gallacher believes getting to four-under par during his opening round can give him confidence on Friday.
Lawrie admits to opening shot nerves
"There's always the chance you can get back up the leaderboard tomorrow," he said.
"I played well when I finished fourth last week (at Loch Lomond) and I'd rather be playing well coming into tournaments than not.
"It would've been a great round if I'd parred in but I'm not too unhappy."
Gallacher conceded that he was surprised to be back playing golf, and in a major, so soon after the 35-year-old was floored by a serious viral infection.
"I didn't really know what was going to happen but things have turned round and I'm playing well now.
"This is where I want to play; competing here."
With McIlroy stealing the thunder on the opening day, Gallacher insists he will focus only on his game and climbing the leaderboard.
"You just play your own game. You have your own game-plan and you stick to that for four rounds, regardless.
"But it's a brilliant round from Rory. I'm going to hit a few balls on the range now and then get a bit of physio, take it easy and chill out."
Six Scots feature in this year's Open, with Coltart, who has been commentating on the event for the past two years, leads the home charge.
"Doing the radio work at the Open was great because it really inspires you again. You're on the other side of the ropes and you want to be there," he said.
"It's better than standing in the rain beating balls trying to improve and it helped to get me up to get back out here.
"I think that's probably right up there with one of the best rounds of my career. It was a bit of a surprise and this one will be plugged in the memory banks for years to come."
Arizona-based Scot Martin Laird faces a battle to feature over the weekend after a sluggish two-over-par 74.
Former Open champion Sandy Lyle finished the day on three-over-par. The 1985 winner bogeyed the second and fourth before hitting back with a birdie at the following hole.
Birdies at the 12th and 14th saw Lyle find momentum on the back nine but a triple bogey at the extended 17th added a painful blemish as his round drew to a close.
And Colin Montgomerie, who has twice finished runner-up at the Open, was another to come unstuck at the famous Road Hole, taking a double-bogey six at the penultimate green to finish on 74.