England’s Jack Senior leads the way after a low-scoring start to the abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance.
The 32-year-old Morecambe man posted a bogey-free seven-under 64 to hit the front on Scotland’s Golf Coast as he goes in search of first European Tour title.
Reigning European Tour No.1 Lee Westwood is a shot further adrift in a tie for second with world No.3 Justin Thomas.
US Open champ and world No.1 Jon Rahm is in a group of players in fourth on five-under that includes last year’s Scottish Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood, as well as Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter.
David Law and Connor Syme lead home interest on four-under.
It was, however, a disappointing day for Rory McIlroy. The four-time major champion could only manage a one-under 70, salvaging his day with birdies at the 16th and 17th.
Senior, a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour, is looking to complete a unique Scottish hat-trick. He won the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at Spey Valley on European golf’s second tier in 2015, four years after being part of the Great Britain & Ireland side that won the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.
“I've won at every single level I've played at,” he said. “I think that's something I've always been good at. I can get across the line and I feel comfortable when I'm at the top of the leaderboard. I don't shy away from the top of the leaderboard and when I'm out in front, I don't tend to back away as such.
“I tend to try to keep the foot on the pedal, and I'm going to have to do that this week because there's going to be very little wind over the next three days and you're going to have to keep hitting good shots and keep rolling the putts in.”
Thomas, meantime, was left to reflect on a “weird” day at the office.
“I'm going to have to sit back and think about how it was,” admitted the American. “Obviously, six-under is great. I'd love that every round of golf I play. Bogey-free made it pretty stress-free.
"I was a little upset or disappointed with some of the iron shots I hit. Felt I could have hit them closer but nice to play that last hole as well as I did to hopefully generate some momentum.
“The speed of the greens, I think all of us had a hard time getting them to the hole on some of them. So just getting accustomed to that. I felt like a couple putts, if I would have had the speed correct, I would have made.
“Overall, drove it well. Had a couple drives that were loose but for the most part just a solid day.”