David Drysdale is top Scot after gutsy 68 in Turkish Airlines Open

David Drysdale shot a three-under-par 68 in the first round at Regnum Carya in Belek. Picture: Getty Images
David Drysdale shot a three-under-par 68 in the first round at Regnum Carya in Belek. Picture: Getty Images
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David Drysdale recovered from a poor start to fare best among five Scots in the field after the opening round of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open in Belek.

The 42-year-old was two-over after six holes at the Regum Carya course but then covered the remaining 12 holes in a splendid five-under-par for a 68.

That left him sitting joint-14th, four shots behind three joint-leaders in Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, South African Haydn Porteous and Dutchman Joost Luiten.

On a day when three-time major winner Padraig Harrington also started brightly with a 65, Stephen Gallacher was next best among the Scots with a 69.

Richie Ramsay carded a level-par 71, one less than Marc Warren in one of the final groups, while Scot Jamieson had to settle for a 73.

Drysdale, who started his round at the 11th, found water with his approach in running up a 6 at the long 15th before also dropping a shot at the next.

“I wasn’t quite with it this morning,” admitted the Cockburnspath man afrerwards. “I didn’t sleep well last night, wasn’t quite awake and it took me a while to get going.”

A good birdie at the 18th, a tough uphill par-4 with water on the left of the fairway, kick-started his round and he then birdied the third, fourth, seventh and eighth to come home in 30.

“I’ve actually had a few rounds like that recently,” added Drysdale, who is sitting 48th in the Race to Dubai and is hoping to be in the top 30 at the end of the Final Series as that would get him into next year’s Open at Carnoustie.

“I started poorly in the final round in the Dunhill, hitting it into the water at the first at St Andrews to start with a double-bogey, but ended up shooting three or four-under.

“That was lack of concentration because two amateur partners were taking forever. Here, I just stayed patient, didn’t lose the rag or anything.”

Gallacher was equally pleased with his bogey-free opening effort as it was his first competition round with a new weakened grip.

“I’m pleased with two-under and also having no bogeys on the card. I left a few out there, but there were a pins that were tough to get close to,” admitted Gallacher, who turned 43 yesterday.

“If I can keep playing like that and hole a few putts, then I will be delighted at the end of the week.”

The three-time European Tour winner made the decision to weaken his right hand when gripping the club after being sent a John Jacob’s tuition book by his uncle Bernard.

“I drove the ball really good, which was plasing. At the 10th, for example, I felt confident taking it down the left close to the water and was left with a 9-iron in at quite a long hole,” he added.

“I never really got my irons close enough a few times, but I am delighted with that for my first test of my new grip under tournament pressure.

“It’s only out here that I will be able to tell if it’s working and in time I will start feeling more confident about narrowing my sights and aiming straight at flags.

“I’m still a wee bit out in terms of my alignment, but the way I drove it today compared to how I have been this year was like night and day.

“I hit three or four shots today left to right holding it into the wind that would have been tough for me before.”

Ramsay, the top Scot in this year’s Race to Dubai in 24th position, described his effort as “steady” and is hoping a few more putts will start dropping over the next three days.

Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood dropped a shot at the last for a 71 while playing partners Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson signed for 69 and 73 respectively.

Rose, who won the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China last weekend to climb to world No 6, recovered well after running up a double-bogey 5 at the second.

Stenson, last year’s Open champion, also dropped two shots there before snapping the shaft of his 9-iron as he played a shot from the base of a tree later in the round.