Simon Dyson could not have been more relaxed on the first tee of the Open Championship if he had been on holiday. A week ago, the Yorkshireman was due to be spending this week in Spain with his wife. Then David Toms withdrew and Dyson got in as an alternate.
The reserves were stealing the show here yesterday. Dyson was playing with Thomas Bjorn, who got in even later than him. Bjorn had a 65 and Dyson a 68. Both bogeyed the last, although in differing fashions. For Dyson, who drove in a bunker and was glad to two-putt for his five, it was his only dropped shot of the day after three birdies.
Dyson's best result of the season so far was his third place at the BMW PGA Championship. Since that was the only other event in England this year, the 33-year-old is clearly trying to take advantage of playing in front of a home gallery. "I was going to go down to Spain and have a few days down there with my wife," Dyson said. "So we're going to go down next week instead. It's not a big deal, although it's a shame because my brother and his girlfriend are down there at the minute and we were going to meet up.
"My caddie told me on the first tee to just enjoy it. Just be pleased we are here because we weren't meant to be in it. I felt really relaxed, probably more so than the last few weeks, and it seemed to show in my game."
Although Dyson faced further treatment on his troublesome back after the round, he was hoping to take the same approach to today's second round. "No expectations, just enjoy it," he said.
"It's always nice to play in Opens. It's the best tournament in the world by a mile," added the player whose first break came out in Asia. "I played the Masters last year. Don't get me wrong, the Masters is something special, but it's nothing like an Open."
It was an experience being enjoyed for the first time by Danny Willett and Richard McEvoy, who were alongside Ian Poulter on 69. McEvoy is 32 and has been trying to qualify since 1999. Willett is only 23 but has missed out in qualifying by a single shot in four of the last five years. "It was nice to finally get here," he said.
Willett was off in the first group of the day at 6.30am. "Getting up at 4am is never nice but once you get out here, your adrenaline is pumping and you want to get on with it." Playing at the venue where he won the English Amateur title in 2007, "get on with it" Willett did, despite getting the worst of the conditions.
As a young man who travels out of the country most weeks of the year, the prospect of a long afternoon away from the course was brightened by the imminent arrival of his parents from his hometown of Sheffield.
Poulter, meanwhile, was dressed in what he called "Seve colours" – navy with white shirt and white shoes. But the wind and rain meant the waterproofs masked his personal tribute to the three-time Open champion. He could not conjure a miracle like the hole-in-one of his playing partner Dustin Johnson but he felt he hit a lot of good iron shots.
"There were some tough shots and I'm pretty happy with how I played," he said. Ahead of some more vaunted home hopes, Poulter added: "I definitely feel I have a chance. I don't feel I need to go to the range to do any work. Back to the house and a bit of a rest."