But they were all left trailing in the wake of South African David Frost as the two-time winner surged to the top of the leaderboard courtesy of a sensational finish which included four birdies and an eagle in his last six holes.
Montgomerie’s quest for a first victory in the event got off to a shaky start, as he was level par through 12 holes, but gains on the 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th moved the 52-year-old ominously into contention in joint-third following a four-under-par 68.
“It was nice to finish strongly, especially I was overheating a little to be honest so it was pleasing to hole a few putts coming home,” said the three-times Seniors major winner and already guaranteed to finish the season as Europe’s leading over-50s player for the second year running.
“I made a silly mistake on the 12th which cost me a bogey, but I hung in there and played some very nice stuff towards the end. So I’m fairly happy with the start, but there’s definitely a little bit of room for improvement over the next two days.”
Brand Jnr made his 69 score with a three-under inward journey, which was matched by Drummond, who lost out to Montgomerie in the Travis Perkins Senior Masters at Woburn earlier this year, as he signed for a 70.
Frost’s love affair with the Legend Course at Constance Belle Mare Plage started with his victory in 2011, and the South African is in pole position to claim an unprecedented third title after moving to the head of affairs on seven under par.
That earned him him a two-shot lead over Englishman Paul Eales, who had set the pace earlier in the day with a flawless 67.
“I’ve had a lot of joy at this event in the past, so I always feel very good whenever I arrive,” said Frost. “You can’t be too aggressive off the tee, you’ve got to stick to your game plan and I executed that very well today.
“When I saw the leaderboard just after the turn, I thought if I could finish well there was no reason why I couldn’t get to within a shot. But to go into the second round with a two-shot lead was way beyond my expectations.”
Eales, who birdied the final hole to sign for his joint lowest round of the 2015 season, is yet to enter the winner’s circle in the over-50s ranks.
He said: “It was a bit hot and sweaty, but playing alongside Des [Smyth] is always a pleasure. It helped that I play pretty well too, no bogeys on your card is always a good day.”
Paul Broadhurst, winner of this season’s Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Seniors Open at Archerfield Links, opened with a 69 to sit joint-sixth.
The Scottish contingent was reduced to three when Sam Torrance was forced to pull out before teeing off due to a back injury.
Round 1 scores
65 D Frost (RSA)
67 P Eales (Eng)
68 C Montgomerie (Sco), C Williams (RSA), L Carbonetti (Arg)
69 M Martin (Esp) , P Wesselingh (Eng), A Sherborne (Eng) , P Broadhurst (Eng) , G Brand Jnr (Sco)
70 R Drummond (Sco) , J Smith (USA) , B Cameron (Eng) , P Fowler (Aus)
71 G Wolstenholme (Eng) , A Forsbrand (Swe) , B Lane (Eng) , S Luna (Esp)
72 R Chapman (Eng) , J Remesy (Fra) , D Smyth (Irl) , C Monasterio (Arg) , T Thelen (USA) , G Manson (Aut) , L Zhang (Chn) , P Walton (Irl)
73 M Farry (Fra) , J Carriles (Esp) , J Quiros (Esp) , G Rusnak (USA) , J Gould (Eng) 74 M Mackenzie (Eng) , A Bossert (Sui) , S Brown (Eng) , M Davis (Eng) , G Marks (Eng) , R Gibson (Can)
75 F Lamare (Fra) , V Seeneevassen (Mri) , D O’Sullivan (Irl) , P Golding (Eng) , K Tarling (Can) , P Linhart (Esp)
76 S Tinning (Den)
77 J Sallat (Fra) , W Grant (Eng) , J Berendt (Arg) , M Mouland (Wal) , J Harrison (Eng)
78 A Franco (Par)
79 G Emerson (Eng) , R Sabarros (Fra)
81 M McLean (Eng)