Colin Montgomerie, certainly one of the best players to have never won a major, is playing in his final Open, and at the course where he grew up.
Monty—who last played in the Open in 2010—went through qualifying for one more chance at Troon, where he first took up the game and where his father, James, was the longtime club secretary. Both father and son are now honorary members of the club, and James, now 86, will become the club president two weeks after the Open finishes. Said Monty, 53, of his 22nd and final appearance, “When the Open comes back to Troon in, say, 12 years’ time, being 65 I won’t be able to play, never mind qualify, because that’s the age limit. So this was the last opportunity to try to get in to play an Open at Royal Troon.”
Playing in his very first Open is 25-year-old American Harold Varner III, who turned pro in 2012 after graduating from East Carolina University and is beginning to hit his stride as a player. Varner has already earned $1.245 million on the PGA Tour this year, with four top 10s including a 7th place finish at the Quicken Loans National three weeks ago, which got him into the Open on what was his last opportunity to qualify. The long-hitting Varner—he presently ranks 20th in driving distance, 6th in total birdies, 4th in par five scoring average, and shot a round of 62 during the OHL Classic at Mayakoba back in November—said of qualifying that “I didn’t even realize what was happening until I was done and my caddie said that he thought I had the last place.”
Both Varner and Monty played yesterday’s first round at Royal Troon in even-par 71. Both remain at even-par through round two, currently 10 strokes off Phil Mickelson’s lead.