Padraig Harrington birdied the last for a battling 70 but confessed he showed the Open too much respect.
After mixing four birdies with four bogeys the two-time Open champion felt he could have been more aggressive, admitting: “I think having too much respect for major tournaments, that’s where I went wrong. I was just a little bit too tentative and cautious and not wanting to make mistakes.
“Conditions were good enough that you could be a little bit more aggressive than you would normally be at a major.
“The only thing I would look for between now and tomorrow is getting my head in the right place and just being a little bit more trusting.”
The Dubliner, 40, birdied the second but bogeyed the fourth when he duffed his third into a greenside trap. Another shot went at the tough sixth, where he was in the left rough with his tee shot and recovery before missing from 10 feet.
A long range bunker shot to three feet saw him birdie the par-five seventh and turn in one over. But while he birdied the 10th from 12 feet to get back to level and saved par from eight feet at the 12th, he could not hit the ball close to the hole over the closing stretch and paid the price when he three-putted the 17th from 45 feet to slip to one over.
A birdie from 12 feet at the last eased his pain but he knows he will have to be more trusting of his game in the second round.
He said: “I didn’t really put myself in much trouble all day. So I think the 70 reflects how I played. But I definitely could play a little bit better if I got out of my own way.
“I thought in the calmer weather, the pin positions were very generous. You could go at most of the pins.
“I think if you asked me on a Wednesday would I take level par on the first round of a major I would say, yeah, definitely. But the pins were a little easier than level par and it’s reflected in the scoring.”
Despite the low scoring on a benign first day, Harrington reckons the cream will come to the top on Sunday evening.
He said: “I think this is a good golf course, a fair golf course. It’s not tricky or anything like that, so I can’t see it in any shape or form throwing up an odd winner this week. It’s a solid a golf course as you could want.”