Andrew Coltart is playing in the British Open for the first time since 2002. But that doesn't mean he wasn't in attendance at Royal Birkdale and Turnberry the last two years.
It’s just that the 40-year-old Scot was doing television commentary -- not playing.
This week, though, Coltart has turned in the microphone and is competing again at St. Andrews where he tied for 20th in 1995. He's making the most of the opportunity, too, after firing a 66 in the first round that left him three strokes off Rory McIlroy's lead.
While Coltart would rather have been hitting the shots the last two years, not calling them for TV, he doesn't regret the time he spent as a talking head.
"It's great, because it really inspires you again," Coltart explained. "You're on the other side of the ropes, and naturally a great bunch of people on the other side of the ropes and you're watching the golf from a different perspective.
"You want to be there. ... It's better than standing in the rain, beating balls trying to improve. It's inspirational stuff being here watching these guys play in these majors, and it helped to get me up to get back out here."
Coltart made six birdies on Thursday and didn't drop a shot to par. He and playing partner, John Daly, who matched the 66, fed off each other all day.
"Obviously I got a good draw," Coltart said. "I've known John for a long time. It's a pleasure to play with him again, and it was a good atmosphere out there, a good crowd, even that ridiculously early in the morning in those conditions. And he got off to a flying start. And I think it just helped us, helped me a little bit.
"I managed to knock that one in on the 1st and get a big putt in on 6, which helped, and sort of settled me down a bit, and just got on the back of John making a few birdies, and the crowds swelled up and nice to be out there again, and managed to bring it in." -- Helen Ross
Interesting fact on Andrew Coltart: He’s never played in a PGA TOUR event outside of a major championship. Now, he finds himself in contention after a 6-under 66 this morning in a major that’s being played just down the road from where he lives.
That also gives Coltart, a 40-year-old native of Dumfries, Scotland, just his sixth round in the 60s in 37 overall rounds at the British Open. Thursday’s effort also equaled his best score at the British Open (a third-round 66 in 1994 at Turnberry, where he tied for 32nd).
This is Coltart’s 12th career start at the British Open, where he best finish was a tie for 18th in 1999 at Carnoustie. His only other top-20 finish was a tie for 20th at St. Andrews in 1995.