CASTLE STUART, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - Colin Montgomerie boosted his hopes of qualifying for next week's British Open with a five under par 67 on the first day of the Scottish Open on Thursday.
Montgomerie recorded an eagle and five birdies but let slip a share of third place among those out in the morning half of the draw when he bogeyed the last after a poor drive.
"I played as well as I have for a long time but bogeyed two easy holes, the third and ninth that everyone seemed to birdie, so there's a four-shot swing," said Montgomerie.
"It was also disappointing to bogey my last, the ninth, and to miss the ninth fairway is a disaster, the thing is 110 yards wide and I went to the top left trying to get close in two.
"But I came here for a reason and that is to get as many World Ranking points and the Race to Dubai, but also to get into The Open Championship, as well."
Last year's Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie has contested every British Open since making his debut in 1990 at St. Andrews.
World No. 2 Lee Westwood and Chilean rookie, Mark Tullo established a new Castle Stuart course record in sharing the lead with seven under par 65s.
However Westwood was more pleased to be in contention than to have sharing in setting the new course record.
"It's a good score and I played well, and it was a good round of golf," said Westwood.
"It was a nice way to start the next two weeks hopefully. But as for a course record, I look more to the fact that 65 is a good round of golf and I'm in contention for the tournament.
"It's not much about course record, it's about getting into position and carrying that next few days and winning the Scottish Open."
However Westwood revealed he had some trouble finding his way about the course and on a few occasions he walked from the green asking where the next tee was.
"I couldn't find a couple of tees, lost direction," he said.
"I had only played nine holes on Monday and then yesterday, and with conditions miserable, I spent most of the day walking around behind an umbrella. So I had to ask where some of the next tees where."
Westwood capped his round at the par five, 18th that he was playing as his ninth, when he hit a 3-iron 252 yards to six feet behind the flagstick and holed the eagle putt.
Tullo is competing on the European Tour full time for a first occasion in his career.
The 33-year old, who won twice last year on the secondary Challenge Tour, birdied his opening four holes and then five of his closing nine in his best round in his rookie season.
Three players, South African George Coetzee, Sweden's Peter Hanson and Danish-born rookie Thorbjorn Olesen, recorded six under par 66s.
Olesen missed a two-foot putt on the final green last Sunday that would have put the 21-year old into a French Open play off.
Thirteen players, among them World No. 1 Luke Donald, defending Scottish Open champion, Edoardo Molinari and double US Open winner Retief Goosen are well placed on five under par.
Former U.S. Open champion, Michael Campbell continued his welcome return to form in signing for a four under par 68.
World No. 8 Matt Kuchar was the best of the visiting Americans signing for a 70 and three fewer than compatriot and World No. 5 Phil Mickelson.
And Welshman Phil Price recorded the very first hole-in-one at Castle Stuart when he aced the par three 11th hole.
The former Ryder Cup player was presented with 168 bottles of champagne, one for every yard of his ace.
Leading and selected first round scores in the Scottish Open on Thursday (par 72; GBR/IRL unless stated):
65 - Mark Tullo (CHI), Lee Westwood
66 - Peter Hanson (SWE), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), George Coetzee (RSA)
67 - Carlos Del Moral (ESP), Chris Wood, Peter Whiteford, Retief Goosen (RSA), Colin Montgomerie, Richard McEvoy, Scott Jamieson, Marc Warren, Richard Finch, Jamie Donaldson, Luke Donald, Barry Lane, Edoardo Molinari (ITA)
68 - Christian Nilsson (SWE), Michael Campbell (NZL), Greig Hutcheon, Simon Dyson, Peter Lawrie, Lee Slattery, Jose Manuel Lara (ESP), Ernie Els (RSA), Markus Brier (AUT), Oskar Henningsson (SWE), Lorenzo Gagli (ITA)
69 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Rafael Echenique (ARG), Danny Willett, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Michael Jonzon (SWE), Martin Wiegele (AUT), Graeme McDowell, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL), Darren Clarke, Raphael Jacquelin (FRA), Richard Green (AUS), Gregory Bourdy (FRA), Mark Foster, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington
70 - James Kingston (RSA), Anders Hansen (DEN), Joost Luiten (NED), Robert Coles, Steven O'Hara, Johan Edfors (SWE), Stephen Dodd, Niclas Fasth (SWE), Martin Laird, Alastair Forsyth, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Richie Ramsay, David Howell, Matthew Nixon, Stuart Manley, Matt Kuchar (USA), Victor Dubuisson (FRA), David Lynn, Lloyd Saltman, Oscar Floren (SWE), Romain Wattel (FRA), Stephen Gallacher, Tano Goya (ARG)
71 - Ryan Palmer (USA), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Matthew Zions (AUS), Andrew Dodt (AUS)
72 - Thomas Aiken (RSA), Noh Seung-yul (KOR), Liang Wen-chong (CHN), Anthony Kang (USA), Hennie Otto (RSA), Shiv Kapur (IND), Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (IND), Brett Rumford (AUS), Keith Horne (RSA)
73 - Bryden Macpherson (AUS), Brendan Steele (USA), Phil Mickelson (USA)
74 - Daniel Gaunt (AUS)
75 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN), Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
76 - Jason Knutzon (USA), Danny Lee (NZL)
77 - Mark Brown (NZL), Brandt Snedeker (USA)
78 - Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Scott Strange (AUS)
79 - Sandy Lyle
WD - Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN)