A flawless six-under-par 66 for Brandon Stone on Thursday in the first round of the Scottish Championship presented by AXA was only good enough to see him tuck in four strokes behind the lead at Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews in Fife.
Spaniard Adrian Otaegui was also flawless on a day when low scores were to be had, making 10 birdies on his way to a three-stroke edge over his closest pursuers.
Stone has history in Scotland, having won the Scottish Open in 2018, when he carded a closing 60 to race to a four-stroke victory at Gullane.
Otaegui began his first round with a hat-trick of birdies, and they just kept on coming as he picked up another shot on the seventh before going birdie-birdie-birdie again at the start of the back nine. After holing a brilliant long putt at the tricky 17th for his ninth gain of the day, the Spaniard closed his round with another to sign for a bogey-free 62. When he entered the clubhouse, he was four strokes clear of the chasing pack but he was hunted down in the afternoon, with Matt Wallace and South Africa’s Bryce Easton cutting the gap to three.
There was some seriously low scoring on day one, but, strangely, not very many eagles. In fact, there were only four across the entire round, with Wallace, Easton, Mathieu Fenasse and local favourite David Law the only men to get one.
Justin Walters signed for a one-under-par 71, Dean Burmester and Justin Harding were three-over.
With reporting from The European Tour