Some equipment changes, including a return to his old putter, helped Russell Knox shake off his poor run of form to get off to a great start in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
The Scottish No 1 heads into today’s second round just a shot behind leader Thomas Pieters after making an eagle and four birdies in a four-under-par 66 at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
The effort was a timely boost for Knox after slipping from 18th at the start of the year in the world rankings to 50th, having missed the cut in his last three events, including the Scottish Open and The Open.
“I hit the ball great today,” he said after signing for a score that was one better than Open champion Jordan Spieth, as well as Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
“I’ve obviously struggled a little bit recently but my game’s not been far off. I know it hasn’t been.
“I made a couple of adjustments in my equipment, which is going to be important moving forward for me.
“I went back to the putter that I used when I won (the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions) in China. I figured it did work at one point, so it worked today. I rolled the ball beautifully.
“I also switched iron shafts, which I haven’t done in five years. That seemed to make it a little easier for me.
“I know my world ranking has slipped a bit, I think I’m 50 now and obviously being in the top 50 is a big deal for anyone. So I put pressure on myself to be in the top 50. I feel like when I’m playing well, I’m a top 20 player.”
On a day when Belgian Pieters fired the only bogey-free round to set the pace, Paul Lawrie carded four birdies in a one-under 69 to sit in a tie for 15th in the 76-man field.
Lawrie secured his spot in the event through winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa earlier in the year.
Lothians duo Louis Gaughan and Lloyd Saltman both have the leader in their sights heading into today’s final round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Nokia Masters at Mannings Heath.
Gaughan, who is attached to Bathgate, is tied for third on seven-under, three behind Englishman Andrew Cheese, with Saltman (Calum Smith Pro Shop) a shot futher back in joint-fifth.
The ever-improving Gaughan roared into contention with a second-round 67 that contained an eagle and five birdies.
Saltman, who is starting to get back on form after a serious leg injury, also signed for five birdies in his 68.
Conor O’Neil (Mearns Castle Golf Academy) is the only other Scot standing on three-under.
Former European Tour player Steven O’Hara is just three shots off the lead at the halfway stage in the Galvin Green PGA Assistants’ Championship at Coxmoor.
The North Lanarkshire Leisure player followed his opening 70 with a 73 to sit in a share of seventh as Englishman Matthew Fieldsend (Drayton Park) reached the midway point out in front after rounds of 69-71.
Rodger Clarke (Golf Dedication Centre), Thomas Higson (Gleneagles) and Graeme McDougall (Elie Links) were the only other Scots in addition to O’Hara to make the cut.
Jamie McLeary was in a logjam for the lead after the opening round of the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.
The two-time Challenge Tour winner saw his 67 Vierumäki Resort matched by no less than nine other players, including Welshman Rhys Enoch.
English duo Charlie Ford and Matthew Baldwin were also in that massive group.
Birthday boy Robert MacIntye, who is playing in the event as an amateur, shot a 71, as did on-form Jack McDonald.
Scottish Stroke-Play champion Liam Johnston claimed a top-20 finish in the Western Amateur Championship in Illinois.
The Dumfries & County man closed with rounds of 68 and 71 for a seven-under-par 277 total at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe.
Californian Norman Xiong claimed the coveted title on 270 after he signed off with rounds of 66 and 65 to finish a shot ahead of Brad Dalke.
Keep an eye out for Akshay Bhatia as the American left-hander looks set to be a hot prospect.
The 15-year-year from Wake Forest, North Carolina, broke all sorts of records in winning the 42nd US PGA Boys Junior Championship in Missouri.
With a 22-under-par 266 total at The Country Club of St. Albans, Bhatia beat Pat Perez’s record set in 1993, by an impressive five strokes in claiming the coveted title.
There are some tasty ties in this morning’s Scottish Amateur Championship quarter-finals at Prestwick.
They include Nairn’s Sandy Scott taking on Banchory youngster Sam Locke, as well as experienced Kilmacolm campaigner Matt Clark up against Elderslie’s Alasdair McDougall.
It’s Stuart Easton (Irvine) versus Royal Wimbledon’s Ryan Lumsden in another cracker, with Williamwood’s Georgr Burns taking on Chris Maclean of Balmore in the last of the ties.
Lumsden progressed to the last eight by making a hole-in-one to beat Kirkhill’s Craig Ross at the 20th in their fourth-round match.
Basketball player Stephen Curry carded an opening-round 74 at Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in California.
The Golden State Warriors guard’s four-over-par effort, which included three birdies, four bogeys, and a double bogey, left him 11 shots off the lead.
Yorkshire’s Nick Poppleton holed a 45ft putt on the 18th at The Berkshire to topple top seed David Langley in the first round of the English aAateur Championship.
A Japanese player won the the St Andrews Boys’ Open for the second year in a row.
Taiga Sugihara claimed the 2017 title with a 3&1 win over Colchester’s Daniel Nicholls in the final.
Muckhart’s Jennifer Saxton won the girls’ equivalent as she bear Eloise Healey (West Lancs) 2&1 in the title decider.