On a day of low scoring in the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Thomas Aiken carded a three-under-par 69 on Kingsbarns Golf Links to be the leading South African in the field in a share of 37th.
It was a bit of a ropey start for Aiken with three bogeys in his first five holes, including one of the first. But he made two birdies on the front nine to limit the damage, and he turned for home at one-over. He struck a good vein of form on that homeward nine, making birdies on 12, 15, 16 and 18 to give a glimpse of the kind of golf he has been searching for.
He was five strokes behind the leaders, and with two rounds on the other courses for everyone – as well as Kingsbarns, they are playing on the Old Course at St Andrews and on Carnoustie – in whatever autumn weather might be thrown at them, Adri Arnaus of Spain, England’s Tyrrell Hatton, China’s Haotong Li and Belgian Nocholas Colsaerts will not feel entirely comfortable on eight-under.
Brandon Stone, Justin Harding and Haydn Porteous all also carded opening 69s to share 37th with Aiken. Stone and Harding were also on Kingsbarns, while Porteous played his opening round on the Old Course.
Dean Burmester, Branden Grace, MJ Daffue, Zander Lombard, Daniel van Tonder and Louis de Jager were all on two-under in a share of 55th. Justin Walters, Darren Fichardt, George Coetzee and Wilco Nienaber all opened with one-under to share 79th. Jaco Ahlers and Thriston Lawrence were on level-par, Neil Schietekat and Jacques Kruyswijk on one-over, Martin Rohwer on three-over, Toto Thimba Jnr of five-over and Ruan Conradie on six-over.