It was a promising start for Scottish hopefuls in this year’s European Tour Qualifying School as 10 home players - seven more than 12 months ago - progressed from the stage one event at The Roxburghe, near Kelso.
While a further 180 holes lie ahead in the annual card scramble, it was mission accomplished in the Borders for an exciting mix of Scots, many of whom passed the tricky opening test at the first attempt.
They included Dumfries & County amateur Liam Johnston, who broke par in all four rounds - a closing 69 gave him a nine-under 279 total - to finish joint-fourth behind Englishman Chris Lloyd.
“I’m delighted to get through, especially as it’s my first attempt at the Q School,” said Johnston, a former Scottish Boys’ Championship runner-up. “I’m also happy to have shot sub-par scores in each round.
“I started bogey-double today but, with six birdies and a hole-out eagle on 14, I had a stress-free last couple of holes.”
It was a stress-free event from start to finish for Rowallan Castle-attached Jack Doherty, who progressed comfortably in third spot, with new pro recruit Ewen Ferguson joining him and Johnston in the top 10.
“I played nicely this week,” said Doherty, “A good couple of 68s to start set me up nicely and I then just made sure I kept it solid for the last two rounds.
“The main goal was obviously to progress to second stage, so it was pleasing to do that.
“I had a good lesson with my coach Bill Lockie on Sunday after missing the cut in Ireland (on the Challenge Tour) and that really helped to freshen up my mindset.
“I also had a change of caddy on the bag this week in Neil, who was with me when I gained my card for 2014, so that definitely helped.
“I was very impressed with The Roxburghe. I thought the set up and condition was very good and if you played well then you were rewarded.”
Daniel Young made it through for the second year in a row at the same venue, where Paul Ferrier, Sam Kiloh, Thomas Higson, Jamie Savage, Jack McDonald and Chris Robb were the other Scots to progress.
Richie Ramsay is on course to be in contention at the halfway stage in the Italian Open, which continued to be affected by heavy rain and thunderstorms at Golf Club Milano.
Among the players who had to return on Friday to finish their first rounds, the Aberdonian carded a four-under-par 67 before moving to six-under for the tournament with a hole to play in his second circuit.
He’s sitting four shots off the lead, held by Englishman Chris Paisley, with the clubhouse target of eight-under having been set by Australian Richard Green after the left-hander backed up an opening 68 with a 66.
“We’re very fortunate to have got two rounds done,” Green told europeantour.com. “The guys who haven’t even gone out yet have certainly got a raw deal, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“The course was already pretty wet and this rain is only going to make matters worse, so I feel a bit for the guys.
“It was flat calm out there this morning and this afternoon the conditions were again perfect, apart from when the rain moved in on the final hole.
“But you still have to make the most of your luck, and I managed to do that today.”
Scott Jamieson, who was also unable to complete his opening round on Thursday, carded a 65 before covering the first 10 holes in his second round in level-par.
Play will restart at 7.30am local time on Saturday, but that will not involve Stephen Gallacher after he withdrew due to illness.