Paul Lawrie, who hails from nearby Aberdeen, is the last player from the United Kingdom to have won the British Open. So it was interesting that the 1995 champion found himself in Thursday’s leadoff group – and actually hitting the opening tee shot in the 150th anniversary event.
Lawrie, who came from 10 strokes off the pace to beat Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde in a playoff at Carnoustie in 1999, is believed to be the first former Open champion in recent times to hit the leadoff shot.
Lawrie’s hybrid found the fairway and he parred the first hole. The 41-year-old veteran, whose alarm went off at 4:45 a.m., went on to make five birdies, three of which came in his final five holes, to post a 69.
The round of 3 under marked Lawrie’s best start in 18 British Opens. Steve Marino, who was playing with Lawrie, also shot 69 while the third member of the group, Thomas Levet, finished with a 73. – Helen Ross