Westwood takes to the wind while Montgomerie fights for Open spot

First Colin Montgomerie blanks Sir Alex Ferguson then one of the pacesetters reveals how much he likes wearing skirts. If it was not for Lee Westwood once again turning in a performance befitting the very best in the world then reality would have been a complete stranger on the Castle Stuart links.

Westwood's 65 gave him the joint lead of the Scottish Open with Mark Tullo. As an indication to the Englishman's chances next week at Sandwich it yelled of favouritism. "I couldn't care less if I was favourite," he said. "I wouldn't care if I was 1,000-1. Actually I would as I'd have a few quid on myself."

Westwood would be crushed in the stampede to the bookmakers. Many will still question his major credentials, but they evidently weren't in the Highlands yesterday. Eight birdies, one bogey and any number of shots which proved his suitability to the unique demands of seaside golf. A driver off the fairway to 12 feet on the 12th, a knock-down nine iron from 120 yards into the ninth, a two-iron into the wind on the 18th. "I played great," said Westwood, doing his bit for the bleeding obvious. "I did some nice work on the range last week, working on the ball flight in the wind. I couldn't have hit some of those shots a few weeks ago."

In truth, some of his rivals will never hit those shots, which seems appropriate considering Westwood's lofty world ranking. A win here would move him back into the No 1 spot held by his compatriot Luke Donald. He also fared impressively with a five-under 67. The race to become the first Englishman to take top dog status into the Open in 18 years seems destined to go all the way. What a way for Castle Stuart to begin its tenure as the home of the Scottish Open.

Certainly this opening enthralled as much as it baffled. Montgomerie was one of the central players in a first round which featured every number from one to 10 (Phillip Price having a hole-in-one on the 11th and his fellow Ryder Cupper Ignacio Garrido taking a quintuple bogey on the 12th). The 48-year-old needs at least a top-five finish on Sunday to continue a proud run in the Open Championship which extends back to 1990. A 67 gave the old boy, ranked all the way down in 285th, a fighting chance. It was his lowest score in two years and wasa real pleasure for his home crowd to witness.

Ferguson thought so. The Manchester United manager was in the crowd and was welcomed with a warm handshake when Westwood encountered him on the third. Half an hour later, on the same hole, Ferguson was watching Monty. Alas, he three-putted from 15 feet. You could say the scowl was as familiar as the trudge off the green. Montgomerie walked straight up to Ferguson without a hint of recognition and actually stepped around the Old Trafford legend. A wry smile came across Ferguson's countenance. Had he really been snubbed? "No," said Monty, a Leeds fan. "I didn't see him. I was absolutely focused and in the zone."

In fairness, he had every right to be. He could easily have tied or even bettered Westwood, as he missed a short birdie putt on the fourth (his 13th) and bogeyed the last when driving into trouble on the right. It marred a day which was otherwise startling, considering he matched his playing partner, Donald, ranked 284 places higher than him. "I'm disappointed," said Montgomerie. "I came here for a reason – to qualify for the Open. And I should have pushed ahead today a little bit. I've got to get to 20-under, five-under every day. That's the target."

Otherwise he feels he will be absent when the 140th Open tees off in six days' time. One person who now looks certain to be in the field is Thomas Bjorn, the Dane who so spectacularly blew the Claret Jug when the Open was last in Kent. After a spate of withdrawals, Bjorn is now first reserve, although the five shots he dropped in three holes from the second yesterday will not fill him full of hope of making up for the three shots he took in the 16th bunker when two clear at Sandwich eight years ago.

But that will be next week and this is now and with Tullo up there mighty intriguing it is too. The Chilean has a English father and a Dutch mother "who met at an Irish barbecue". "The funny thing is my Dad says our name is Scottish," said Tullo, after a round featuring 10 birdies. "I do wear skirts once in a while on a couple of crazy nights out so maybe it comes from there." He was told they were called kilts in Scotland. "If I win I will put a kilt on with the Tullo tartan on," he said. It's a nice image. But Westwood has other ideas.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits