Englishmen Ben Hutchinson and Jake Bolton set the pace at The Dukes in St Andrews with a pair of stunning seven-under par rounds of 64.
Hutchinson, a member at Howley Hall Golf Club, got off to a fast start with birdies at his first three holes in the first group out in round one. Hutchinson added a further four birdies and an eagle on his way to the top of the leaderboard.
Also teeing off in one of the earlier groups, Bolton got off to a slower start with four opening pars before his round exploded in to life with four birdies and an eagle in the last five holes of his front-nine. Bolton made two further birdies on the back half before a bogey at the last, the only blemish on his card, as he tied his compatriot Hutchinson at the top.
Speaking after his round, Bolton said, “I feel pretty good, before the round I thought level par would have been a good score, but everything clicked. My iron shots were great, I found most of the fairways and rolled in a few putts.
“I was hitting good shots early on and just not holing putts, then the birdie on 5 kind of set the tone of the round.
On the conditions, “It was tough out there, but if you’re driving it well, keeping it in the fairway and controlling the ball in the wind you can really take advantage. You could generally get it somewhere around the flag on most of the holes.”
Sitting behind the two leaders is another Englishman, Jake Hibbert, who is five-under par going into day two after a bogey-free round of 66.
Leading the Scottish charge at the top of the leaderboard is Kilmacolm’s Matt Clark who also finished the day on five-under par. After a bogey at the first, Clark notched six birdies, including two in his final three holes, to finish the day just two back from the leaders.
Talking to Scottish Golf post-round, Clark said, “I’m pleased with my opening round. I struggled early to get going and was really scrappy for the first five holes but a chip in on five seemed to get momentum turning in my favour.
“I kept it out of trouble and tried to take advantage of the easier holes out there. I got fortunate with the wind as it significantly dropped later in the day so hats off to Ben and Jake shooting seven-under this morning.”
Other Scots in contention after today’s round include Stuart Easton and Alistair Thurlow who signed for solid two-under par rounds of 69.
Speaking after his round, Easton said, “I hit the ball really well from tee to green which was the key today. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a few chances which I am very pleased with, especially in the wind.
“I didn’t capitalise on all the chances I gave myself but I know they will start drilling. Overall it is a good start to the week.”
View all of the scores from round one of the Scottish Men’s Open Championship here.