The tournament host joined Ryder Cup contenders Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood in progressing to the last 32 by winning afteroon matches on the first day of the Paul Lawrie Match Play at Archerfield Links.
Lawrie shrugged off a neck injury to beat Dane Lucas Bjerregaard 4&2 and was delighted after making six birdies in 16 holes.
“I played lovely today and that is the best I’ve felt for a while,” admitted the Aberdonian, who now faces Australian left-hander Richard Green in a battle between two fortysomethings.
Fitzpatrick, who came into this event in the last of the nine automatic spots in Europe’s team for next month’s Ryder Cup, beat Dane Thomas Bjorn 4&3.
The 21-year-old from Sheffield set up his triumph over one of Darren Clarke’s vice captains for the match in Minnesota by racing to the turn in five-under 31 to be six up at the turn.
“The difference today was that I holed a few putts,” said Fitzpatrick, who’d missed three cuts in a row before finishing 49th in the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol last weekend.
“I’m pleased to get a win and Thomas and I are still friends. Indeed, we’ve got pretty close over the last few months, during which time he’s given me a lot of good advice.”
Top seed Wood recovered from losing the first hole to win by the same margin against Australian Brett Rumford.
“I couldn’t buy a putt today, but I kept giving myself chances and I think that wore Brett down,” said the tall Bristol player.
Other winners in the afternoon session included Stirling man Craig Lee, who claimed a notable scalp with a 3&2 win over experienced Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.
But there were early exits for two of Lee’s compatriots as Scott Jamieson and Stephen Gallacher suffered heavy defeats to Sweden Alex Noren and Italian teenager Renato Paratore respectively.
In fairness to the Scottish duo, their opponents were both seven-under-par, which was some of the best scoring of the entire day.
“It wasn’t the start I was hoping for but there wasn’t much I could do against someone who was seven-under-par for 12 holes,” said Gallacher, who was making his first European Tour appearance in two months due to an injury lay-off that has forced him to change his swing.
“I was a bit rusty at the start but any time I felt I had a good chance at a hole, he knocked it in. The wrist felt fine and I played pretty nice after the first two holes but not seven-under nice.”
Due to high winds being forecast for Sunday, an alteration has been made to the planned schedule. The second and third-round ties will now be played tomorrow, followed by the quarter-finals and semi-finals on Saturday.
That would then leave just the 18-hole final on Sunday, when it is planned for that to be played in the afternoon, when the wind is expected to die down a bit.
Afternoon first-round results
Richard Green (Aus) bt Lee Slattery (Eng) 3&2
Paul Lawrie (Sco) bt Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 4&2
Eduardo De La Riva (Esp) bt Callum Shinkwin (Eng) at 19th
Alejandro Canizares (Esp) Mike Lorenzo Vera (Fra) at 19th
Mikko Ilonen (Fin) bt Jin Jeong (Kor) 3&2
Maximilian Keiffer (Ger) bt Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 3&2
Nacho Elvira (Esp) bt Oliver Wilson (Eng) 3&1
Craig Lee (Sco) bt Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 3&2
Richard Bland (Eng) Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 2&1
Anthony Wall (Eng) bt Robert Dinwiddie (Eng) 3&2
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) bt Thomas Bjorn (Den) 4&3
Matt Ford (Eng) bt Pelle Edberg (Swe) 3&2
Chris Wood (Eng) bt Brett Rumford (Aus) 4&3
Daniel Brooks (Eng) bt Gareth Wright (Wal) 4&3
Alex Noren (Swe) bt Scott Jamieson (Sco) 5&4
Renato Paratore (Ita) bt Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 7&6