LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- The loudest cheers in the first round of the British Open came after Tiger Woods had already left the course.
Even more unlikely was the guy accepting them.
Colin Montgomerie no longer wore a scowl and a slump in his shoulders. Left behind was all the other baggage he usually brings to a British Open. In its place was a confident smile that only got wider when a 40-foot birdie dropped on the final hole to a deafening ovation.
''Let us hope they will be cheering as much the rest of the week,'' he said.
A 6-under 65 at breezy Royal Lytham & St. Annes gave him a three-stroke lead Thursday and legitimate hopes that he can win his first major championship -- even the one that has tormented him for 11 years.
''It has always been catch-up in the past. Now, I seem to be in the lead,'' Montgomerie said. ''The whole psyche of the championship changes for me.''
The dynamics are different, for sure.
Montgomerie's best round and best start at the British Open left him three strokes ahead of Brad Faxon, Chris DiMarco and former British Amateur champion Mikko Ilonen of Finland.
Better yet, he was six strokes ahead of Woods.
Woods failed to break par in the opening round at his fourth straight tournament, spending much of the day slashing out of the rough, getting reacquainted with bunkers and dropping his clubs in disgust.
He signed for a 71 and figured it could have been worse.
''At least I got it around where I was at even par,'' Woods said. ''I did not put myself out of the tournament.''
Hardly anyone was a lost cause.
On a cool, breezy day that wasn't nearly as vicious as it started out, 33 players broke par and more than 80 players were no worse than 2 over.
''Tiger is only three off second place,'' Montgomerie noted. ''There's nothing wrong with that score, at all.''
David Duval, a contender in the first two majors, was in a large group at 69 that included Jesper Parnevik and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal.
Another stroke back was Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, who checked in with another wild round -- back-to-back eagles, three birdies and the mistakes that have hounded him in the majors this year. At one point, Mickelson was 3 under through 13 holes and had only three pars.
Two guys who nearly had to withdraw with bad backs -- Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer -- joined Woods in the group at 71.
''It was not impossible out there,'' Faxon said. ''Everybody has a chance. It's not just one guy, one type of game.''
ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Ty Tryon's days of chasing autographs are over. The 17-year-old amateur was signing them after shooting a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead in the B.C. Open.
Tryon, entering his junior year of high school in Orlando, Fla., was tied for the lead with Edward Fryatt on the En-Joie Golf Club course. Garrett Willis, Brad Fabel, Brian Watts, Mark Hensby and Jeff Hart opened with 66s.
LPGA Big Apple Classic
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Nancy Scranton capped a 7-under 64 with a 10-foot eagle putt and held a two-stroke lead over Michele Redman after the opening round of the LPGA Big Apple Classic.
Scranton's eagle on the 481-yard 18th at Wykagyl Country Club was just her second of the year.
and it came after she hit a blind 3-wood from 240 yards. The 3 capped a 5-under 31 on the back nine for Scranton, a three-time winner in her 17 years on the LPGA Tour, who has seven top-10 finishes this season.
The 64 matched her lowest career round, but that came on a par-72 course. Three of Scranton's birdies came on putts of 20 feet or longer, including a 50-footer on the par-4 11th.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam, looking for her sixth win of the season, had a 72.
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