Chris Doak sets pace in Scottish PGA Championship at Deer Park

Chris Doak set a brisk early pace on day one of the Loch Lomond Whiskies Scottish PGA Championship at Deer Park.

Former winner Chris Doak leads after the first round of the Loch Lomond Whiskies Scottish PGA Championship at Deer Park

The 43-year-old, who won the Tartan Tour’s flagship title back in 2010, posted a six-under 66 to sit a stroke clear of Thomas Higson

Doak, who lives just a few minutes from the Livingston venue, illuminated his card by holing a wedge from 55 yards for a birdie on the sixth.

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Having struggled with injuries in recent seasons, as well as losing his card for the European Tour, Doak is slowly rekindling his passion for golf .

“I’ve spent so much time over the last couple of years convincing myself that I didn’t like golf but now I’m just enjoying it,” said Doak, who was a dominant force on the Tartan Tour during a prolific spell between 2005 and 2008.

“I’ve found something in my game again. My old coach, Bob Torrance, used to say ‘coach yourself’, and he was right. I’ve remembered things I used to do well and it’s beginning to show again.”

Higson tucked himself in behind Doak with a 67 but the Gleneagles pro admitted his progress up the leaderboard was far from serene.

“My irons were shocking and I was hitting them left all the time,” said Higson, who won the Deer Park Masters on the domestic circuit earlier this season. “I was fighting it all day and it was a real battle. But I’ve got to be happy with a 67 when I don’t feel I’ve played particularly well.”

Higson’s birdie on the 17th underlined the topsy-turvy nature of his round. “I was in position Z off the tee, then position Z-minus after my second but somehow I holed from 30 feet for a three,” he added of this unorthodox route.

Graham Fox, who won the Scottish PGA Championship in 2012, rolled in a six-footer for birdie on the last in a 68 to lurk in third while Ross Cameron, the defending champion, made a telling thrust around the turn and made four birdies in five holes from the eighth on his way to a 69.

“I’d made a slow start but that little spell got me going,” said Cameron, who was joined on the three-under mark by two-time champion Greig Hutcheon.

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