Big names struggle but Scotland has dream debut

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The Independent Online

Ian Poulter, first and second on his last two starts, was among those who suffered worst on the toughest day of the European tour season so far. Twelve days after a course record-equalling 63 in the British Masters at the Forest of Arden, Poulter had an 11 over par 83 in the opening round of the Diageo Championship here at a windswept Gleneagles.

"I just had to laugh," said the 27-year-old from Milton Keynes. "Obviously the last two weeks have helped (he earned over £350,000), but I didn't let it get to me and I can't say I'm overly fussed. It was just so difficult to make proper contact because it was blowing so hard. I've had a very bad day, but anybody under par has had an unbelievable one. Shooting two under must be like eight under on a normal day."

Scotland's Alastair Forsyth and Australian Brad Kennedy both came in with impressive 70s, while Surrey's Zane Scotland, despite missing a three-foot putt at the last, had a level par 72 on his professional debut that was matched by Colin Montgomerie and was good enough to put him in the top 10.

The former Walker Cup amateur Marc Warren, in the last group of the day, was two under with six to play, but then bogeyed the next two. Poulter was not the only big name to come a cropper. Ignacio Garrido, winner of last month's Volvo PGA champion, had to finish with a birdie just to break 80 and the Spanish Open champion Kenneth Ferrie beat Poulter by only one after running up 10 bogeys.

Paul Casey, a winner on the course two years ago, took 76, as did Ryder Cup match-winner Paul McGinley, while the Welshman Philip Price, another hero of last September's side, finished with a double bogey seven for 79.

Casey, fourth on this season's Order of Merit, slung his six-iron down in disgust after sending it over the green into a bunker at the long 18th. It was his third shot at the 533-yard hole and after failing to get up and down from the sand he said: "I don't think I've ever played in a harder wind inland."

Last August, 35 players broke 70 on the opening day and the Australian Adam Scott went on to win by 10 with a 26 under par total - the lowest of the season by four and only one off the European tour record.

Montgomerie said: "It was a real battle. It was quite slow with a lot of balls being lost and a lot of balls being searched for and that was one of the best 72s I've put together for a long time." As he finished Montgomerie and partners Lee Westwood and Garrido met Gary Orr, who was just about to start and asked if it was as difficult as it looked.

"We just all laughed at him and walked on," Montgomerie said. Orr soon found out for himself, taking a quadruple bogey nine at the second after taking off his shoes and socks to play out of the lake by the green. Garrido carded six sixes, while Westwood did not have a birdie all day, but just two bogeys means he is by no means out of it. Scott matched Montgomerie's 72 and is in the same position - two off the lead - as he was after his opening 67 last year. Former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr incurred two separate one-stroke penalties on the eighth as he ran up an 82.

First Brand's ball moved as he prepared to putt. He put it back in its original position in accordance with the rules, but when the wind blew it again before he had addressed it he should have played from where it stopped and made the mistake of replacing it again.

Forsyth's father was in attendance just six weeks after a triple heart by-pass operation and his son certainly did all he could to give him a tonic.

"I played great and hit very few poor shots," said the 27-year-old from Paisley. "You would think growing up in conditions like this I would be used to it, but I hate playing in the wind. I'm a member here. It's a place I enjoy coming to."

DIAGEO CHAMPIONSHIP (Gleneagles) Leading early first round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 70 A Forsyth, B Kennedy (Aus); 71 I Pyman, G Rojas (Arg), I Giner (Sp); 72 A Scott (Aus), C Montgomerie, R Muntz (Neth), G Havret (Fr), S Kjeldsen (Den), Z Scotland; 73 G Murphy, S Lyle, J-F Lucquin (Fr), N Vanhootegem (Bel), S Delagrange (Fr), S Wakefield, P Broadhurst; 74 S Torrance, L Westwood, J-F Remesy (Fr), M Blackey, R Wessels (SA), F Mann, R Jacquelin (Fr), M Maritz (SA), P Eales, D McGrane, P Archer, M A Martin (Sp), P Walton, B Lane, R Green (Aus), J Bickerton, G McDowell, A Mednick (Swe), S Hurd.