Coltart wins 'Westwood family' honors on opening day at St. Andrews

Coltart wins ‘Westwood family’ honors on opening day at St. Andrews

Andrew Coltart shot an opening-round 66 at St. Andrews.
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You remember Andrew Coltart, right? The 40-year-old Scot was a member of Mark James’ European squad at the 1999 Ryder Cup but was benched by his captain until Sunday’s singles, when he was beaten 3 and 2 by Tiger Woods. One match, one loss. Thanks for coming. Safe flight home.

Coltart is finally back in the headlines after carding a six-under-par 66 — matching the score of his playing partner, John Daly — in the first round of the Open Championship at St. Andrews on Thursday. His return to form is the BBC’s loss: Coltart has spent the past two years as an on-course analyst for BBC Radio. On the opening day of the tournament a year ago he was carrying a microphone at Turnberry and following Tom Watson. In 2010 the tools of his trade are again his clubs.

“It was a lot of fun [working on radio] but it’s great to be back playing well inside the ropes, enjoying the crowd getting behind you,” Coltart said. “Being back at St Andrews means a hell of a lot.”

Coltart has won four times around the world but hasn’t tasted victory since 2001. He fell off the European Tour in 2008 for the first time in 16 years but fought his way back through qualifying school. After a spell of missing 16 consecutive cuts, Coltart was becoming better known for being Lee Westwood’s brother-in-law (his sister is married to the world No. 3). “You start to worry whether you will ever make it through the weekend again,” Coltart said.

He admits that he considered quitting the game. “I was wondering how much longer I could go on. He family was making sacrifices. It was pretty demoralizing. Self-esteem was quite low.”

But battling through Q School last winter — and his stint as an analyst — gave Coltart some much-needed motivation. “It’s inspirational to watch these guys in the majors,” he said of his time behind the microphone. “It’s better than standing in the rain beating balls trying to get better. You get to see golf from a different perspective. It helped me to get back up to get back out here.”

But being back near the top of a leaderboard hasn’t diminished the wry humor that Coltart brought to his broadcasts. When asked about his nerves as he walked toward the tee at the daunting 17th hole, he said: “There should be a toilet fairly close to that tee.”