(CNN) -- Five-time champion Tom Watson enjoyed a "spiritual experience" as his superb opening 65 at Turnberry evoked memories of his classic head-to-head duel with Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open.
Rolling back the years. Watson delighted the galleries with his superb play.
Watson, who went on to win his second British Open title that year, and Nicklaus, the two greatest golfers of that era, traded shot for shot on the Ailsa Course on the final day.
Watson finished in 1977 with two closing rounds of 65 so comparisons were inevitable. He also claimed the British Seniors Open title at Turnberry in 2003.
"There was some spirituality to it as I have had some pretty good moments here in the past in 1977 and in 2003," the 59-year-old told CNN in an exclusive interview.
"You use that to help you play the golf course as the types of shot you hit winning tournaments you put in your memory bank if you can remember them at my age.
"There were a few shots out there today when I did that," he added. Watch Tom Watson tell CNN how experience can help golfers play major tournaments »
Watson was not the only veteran to enjoy first day success at Turnberry with former British Open winners Mark O'Meara and Mark Calcavecchia also well in the hunt after 67s.
"I think it has to do with the benign conditions, if the conditions get a little tougher we will see what happens," he said.
"Experience does count in a big way in links golf and I think you saw that today."
Watson, who said he felt confident going into the third major of the season, said he was perfectly placed after the opening round.
"Well it's where I want to be when you are playing professional golf, you get off to a good start and that's what happened today.
"With no wind the course was defenseless."
Veterans have dominated the headlines at the past two British Opens with Greg Norman leading going into the final round at Royal Birkdale last year before finishing third.
Norman did not enjoy such good fortune at Turnberry, opening with a seven-over 77, while former arch-rival Nick Faldo carded a 78.