Italy’s Francesco Molinari established a new course record of 10-under 62 to lead by two shots after the opening day of the Scottish Open on Thursday.
Molinari, 29, birdied five holes in a row from his fifth and then four in succession from his 12th in a bogey-free display that is two strokes fewer than the previous low set in the event a year ago.
The London-based Italian’s round comes also just four days after he shot a final-round 64 to grab second place in the French Open.
“It felt quite easy today, but then it’s not as easy as it looks, but I was feeling comfortable on the golf course,” he said.
“I had a terrible day on the greens in Paris last Saturday, but had a good session on the practice putting green Saturday evening. Sunday was just brilliant and today I just kept it going. I know it’s not going to keep going for much longer, so I’ll enjoy the moment,” Molinari added.
Spain’s Alejandro Canizares birdied his closing six holes to move into second place on six-under par, and one clear of the duo of Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.
Jacquelin, who was third in last week’s French Open, started his round with three straight birdies and then birdied two of his closing three in his equal-best score in 48 rounds of Scottish Open competition since making his debut in 1998.
World No. 1 and defending champion Luke Donald started his round with four straight birdies, but spoilt his momentum with bogeys at five and eight before three further birdies over his last six holes.
This week is Donald’s first event since missing the US Open halfway cut with a shock 11-over 36-hole tally.
Triple Major-winning Ernie Els was met by a Tour referee after his round of a two-under-par 70, following an incident at the sixth hole where the South African took four shots to get out of a bunker in taking a double-bogey seven.
A person watching TV coverage of the event phoned the Tour complaining Els might have broken the rules while in the bunker.
The Tour looked at video footage of the incident while Els continued to play his round, but then advised him on handing in his card that there had been no breach of the rules.
“Some viewer called in to say I did something that I didn’t do and he thought I was kicking and screaming, which I wasn’t, but there was no penalty,” Els said.
England’s Andrew Johnston was celebrating a first Tour hole-in-one when he aced the 11th hole en route to a three-under 69.
Johnston earned himself 168 bottles of French champagne — one bottle for each of the 168 yards of the par-three hole.
JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
Steve Stricker made a solid start in his quest for a fourth consecutive John Deere Classic title, but US compatriot Troy Matteson stole the limelight with a blistering 10-under 61 on Thursday in Silvis, Illinois.
Matteson attacked TPC Deer Run with 10 birdies in a flawless opening round, taking a three-shot lead over Ricky Barnes (64) as he looks to add a third PGA title to his resume.
“It was a pretty special day,” Matteson said. “I’ve been playing pretty well, just not making a lot putts.”
“I made a couple of putts that were really, really difficult, and I had a bunch of other really, really good looks. I didn’t think it was going to be 10-under, but definitely thought it was going to be good,” he added.
Stricker, who is looking to become just the fifth men’s player to win the same tournament in four consecutive years, joined six others in a tie for third after a back-nine blitz helped him to a six-under 65.