EDMOND, Okla. —
The practice range at Oak Tree National was a place of bewilderment Thursday morning. A cold front brought an early morning thunderstorm along with a 180-degree shift in the wind to the north.
Nothing, however, seemed to bother Colin Montgomerie. The 51-year-old Scotsman fired a 6-under 65, seizing the early lead in the U.S. Senior Open.
“You're always going to get breeze out here in Oklahoma. That's part of the test out here,” Montgomerie said. “At the same time, I prefer the wind and the cool than the no wind and the heat.”
The heat showed up in force, along with strong southerly winds early Thursday afternoon. The opening round was a classic luck-of-the-draw scenario.
The half of the 156-player field that teed off in the morning were greeted with relatively light winds and a soft course. Their only issue was a 77-minute weather delay due to the thunderstorms.
Most of the players had not hit the course before the delay. It didn’t affect their routines much. They were expecting worse.
“It was so dark out there that it was eerie in many ways. It was like Armageddon, you know. It was weird,” Montgomerie said. “So the siren was expected. I was surprised at the length of the delay. It was only an hour, really.”
The morning wave had the easier time Thursday. The thunderstorm delayed morning rounds by 77 minutes, but also softened the 7,053-yard, par-71 course.
Montgomerie wasn’t alone in taking advantage of the soft conditions.
Marco Dawson was only one shot off the pace at 5 under.
Their routes to Oak Tree National couldn’t differ more. Montgomerie spent two decades as one of golf’s biggest names. He dominated the European PGA Tour throughout the 1990s, winning 31 times internationally, and amassing a Ryder Cup record of 20-9-7.