Colin Montgomerie looked great on the tees and fairways during his first career round in the Champions Tour Thursday during the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
On an otherwise strong day, was the greens that did him in.
Montgomerie was tied for 21st after the first round, shooting a 1-under-par 69 in his debut. A handful of missed putts put him four shots back of leader John Huston.
"I played super, but I putted like a complete buffoon," Montgomerie said.
Starting on the back nine, Montgomerie was even at the turn and had several chances to improve his score on the front nine.
He just missed a putt for eagle on the par-5 second and settled for birdie. After missing birdie putts on the third and fourth, Montgomerie went off to the side of the fairway on the fifth and practiced his putting motion over and over after hitting a nice approach.
It didn't help. He two-putted on five and again on six, but was at least able to save par. At last, he broke through on seven, making birdie on the par-4.
Relieved, he flashed a goofy smile and a double thumbs-up to the crowd.
Montgomerie went on to double-bogey eight, but closed out his round with a birdie on nine to finish 1-under.
"I'm just delighted to get 69 in," Montgomerie said. "I doubled the eighth hole, which was so disappointing. Then I managed to hit a good 7-iron into the ninth hole, my last hole, and hold it to about eight feet.
"I was delighted to finish that way and it sets me up for a good round tomorrow."
Montgomerie was paired with two of the best players on the senior tour for his introductory round: Bernhard Langer and David Frost.
Players competing in the Senior Players Championship for the first time have had their share of success. Joe Daley played this event for the first time last year and won it. Since 2000, three other players have won event in their first appearance.
"If I keep playing that way -- if I keep hitting the ball that way -- I have a real opportunity over the weekend to do quite well," Montgomerie said.
But with his performance on the greens in mind, he eventually cut the interview short.
"I'm going away to practice my putting if you don't mind," he said.
Tee times pushed back
Today's tee times have been pushed back to due expected inclement weather. Players are now scheduled to tee off from the first and 10th holes at 8:50 a.m. The last group is scheduled for 10:50. Fans can check post-gazette.com or the Champions Tour Twitter @ChampionsTour for updates in the morning.
After the first round, 29 players were under par, 14 were at par and 38 were over par.
Huston sat alone on top with a 5-under 65 while Barry Lane and Tom Jenkins posted the high rounds of 77. Luckily for them, there is no cut at this event.
Players shot the best on the par-5 second Thursday, which saw eight eagles and 41 birdies on the day. Only four players shot above par.
The hardest hole was the eighth, which was only birdied by one player: Fred Funk, who tied for second with a four-under 66.
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica.