UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- Even Colin Montgomerie was surprised by his opening 69 at the U.S. Open.
"In practice, I was shooting more like 80," said Montgomerie, who turns 52 on Tuesday. "But this morning the course was softer -- they had to do that because they knew it would dry out.
"The greens were pretty receptive early on and allowed scoring. It's just the length I have an issue with, especially off the tee. This is not a normal links course where you can run the ball into the greens. You have to carry the ball onto the surfaces and often that is right on my limit. So today a 69 was super. To break 70 was more than I was expecting."
Montgomerie, who eight times won the European Tour's Order of Merit and captained the winning 2010 European Ryder Cup team, earned his way into the U.S. Open by virtue of his 2014 U.S. Senior Open title.
Last month he defended his title at the Senior PGA Championship but last weekend suffered chest pains and went to the hospital during the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, where he still tied for third. Montgomerie pronounced himself fit prior to the U.S. Open.
"I didn't putt very well. But the green surfaces are very poor, some poorer than others. So no one is going to putt consistently well on these greens," Montgomerie said. "My course management was the best aspect of my play. I plotted my way round and hit the ball into the right positions, which is what you have to do.
"I wanted to represent the title [the U.S. Senior Open] I won last year and the position I hold. There's a long way to go, but 69 is a good start. It's nice to justify the exemption I was given."