A trip up “Hogan’s Alley” cost David Drysdale a seven, but he fought back manfully to post the joint-best first-round effort at Carnoustie.
New pro recruit Connor Syme also got off to an encouraging start on the Angus links on the first day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Drysdale, who effectively secured his tour card with a top-10 finish in this event two years ago despite struggling with a torn calf muscle, ran up a double-bogey at the sixth. He said: “I hit a nice drive into the middle of the fairway and was trying to hit a low 2-iron but it hit the bunker face in front of me. I chipped out, couldn’t get up with a 3-wood and took five shots to reach the green.”
The 42-year-old from Cockburnspath was still one-over for the day before covering the final seven holes in four-under, capping off a splendid day’s work with a 3 at the 18th. “Other than the sixth, it was a solid round of golf,” added Drysdale, pictured, who is the second-highest Scot behind Richie Ramsay in this season’s Race to Dubai. “I played the back nine really well in tough conditions and it was nice to finish with a 3 at the last. It was calm when we arrived this morning but I was allowing for a 30-35mph wind out there most of the round. It was tricky, as Carnoustie always is, and I’m pleased to get it out of the way at the start as it’s normally the toughest of the three.”
Marc Warren also birdied the last in his 70 at the same venue, where Syme, on just his second appearance in the paid ranks, recovered from an opening bogey to sign for a 72. “I didn’t play my best stuff today, but level par is not a disaster at all,” said the 22-year-old from Drumoig. He was particularly pleased to make a birdie-2 at the 16th. “That feels like an eagle,” he said of holing a 40-foot putt. “I actually had that putt in the  British Amateur and I remembered the read from then,” he added.
On a day when the seven other Scots in this year’s field were at Kingsbarns, Scott Jamieson led the way with a 70, one better than both Ramsay and Paul Lawrie. “I feel my game is in good shape,” said Jamieson after signing for four birdies. “The last few weeks have been really good tee to green. If I can get the momentum going with the putter, hopefully I can post some low scores.”
Ramsay came home in three-under 33. “I was sitting on the edge today; it could have gone one way or the other,” he said. “I could have played myself out of the tournament but fortunately I managed to play my way back in.”
On his pro debut, Liam Johnston had a 72, the same as Stephen Gallacher, while Grant Forrest signed for 75 and Duncan Stewart for an 82.