THERE'S a pretty mighty grandstand behind the 18th green here at St Andrews and Paul Lawrie conjured the kind of finish that such vast constructions were invented for. 

The 1999 Open champion had got proceedings in the 150th Open underway with the very first tee shot of the championship at 6:35am. 

A few hours later, the Aberdonian veteran’s final couple of blows down the 18th sparked a roar that just about buckled the weathervane on the Royal & Ancient clubhouse roof.

His drive on the last rolled up to within five-feet of the flag and Lawrie gleefully gobbled up the eagle opportunity by holing out for a two to finish with a cap-doffing flourish. His two-over 74 wasn’t going to threaten the frontrunners but it was a satisfying sign-off to a special day.

“It was just a nice thing to be asked to do,” said Lawrie of the honour of hitting the first tee shot at an historic golfing occasion. “Mr Slumbers (The R&A chief executive) phoned me a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I’d do it. The first thing you think is how cool it will be. And it was lovely.”

A yellow ball perched on the first tee of an Open is not something you see at every championship and some intrigued onlookers pointed at it with the curiosity of someone playing with an old gutta percha.

“I'm 53, not 23, so my eyesight's not the best,” smiled Lawrie of his decision to employ the yellow ba’. “I just see it better when it's flying. And when I'm in the rough as much as I am, it stands out. I never thought I'd play with a yellow ball, but I actually quite like it.”

While Lawrie finished with a bang, Robert MacIntyre started with one and birdied two of his first three holes to trot to the front of the early pack. His thrust was tempered though and the 13th, a tricky hole in terms of angles for a left-hander, proved to be a pesky adversary. A double-bogey there was a sore one, although a birdie up the last helped to repair some of the damage.

“There's only one hole where I don't really have a plan on and that's 13,” he admitted of this flummoxing par-4. “I don't know how to hit the fairway. To create an angle to that pin you've got to hit it left, but the wind's going. It's an absolute nightmare of a hole.”

Unlucky 13 aside, MacIntyre, who has finished in the top-10 in his previous two Open Championship appearances, was reasonably content with his first round effort.

“If someone had given me two-under par before I had started I would have taken it for sure,” said the 25-year-old from Oban.

One of the Scot’s playing partners was Cameron Young, the Open debutant who romped to the front with a 64. MacIntyre had been level-pegging with him early on but Young darted away from him with the kind of acceleration that just about left the reek of burning rubber hanging over the links. “Cameron played brilliantly, he hardly missed a shot,” he said.

David Law, the third Scot in the field, emerged late in the day with a 72 as he marked his major debut with a battling effort. 

Putting off the green on the par-5 sixth for an ugly bogey didn’t do Law many favours as he turned in two-over but he came home in two-under to salvage a level-par score. A 20-footer for birdie on 16 helped. “I got a nice roar from the grandstand for that,” he smiled.