David Law hits purple patch to lead Betfred British Masters

Aberdonian makes seven birdies in eight holes at Close House

David Law carded seven birdies in eight holes to set the pace in the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle., Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

David Law hit a purple patch as he grabbed the lead in the first round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle.

In an event marking the European Tour's full return after being in lockdown since early March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 29-year-old Aberdonian started with five straight pars before moving into top gear.

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He reeled off five birdies in a row from the sixth, produced a brilliant up and down from thick rough to salvage a par at the 11th then birdied the next two holes as well to pick up seven shots in eight holes at the Northumberland venue.

Calum Hill tees off at the first on his way to a four-under-par 67 on the opening day of the Betfred British Masters at Close House. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The brilliant burst, which was being witnessed by 2018 Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn, earned Law a one-shot advantage over English duo Oliver Fisher and Garrick Porteous, as well as Italian Renato Paratore.

"You are not be sure what to expect coming in today after the long break, so I was delighted with that," admitted Law, who is managed and mentored by Paul Lawrie, of his afternoon's work.

The two-time Scottish Amateur champion recorded a breakthrough win on the main tour in the Vic Open 17 months ago in his rookie season.

He'd been struggling with his game before lockdown, but a recent course-record 60 at Hazlehead had hinted he was back on top form, having used the break to good effect to work with his coach, Alan McCloskey.

Richie Ramsay finished birdie-birdie to open with a two-under-par 69 in the first round of the European Tour's full return after a Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

"We’ve been lucky at home and not had anyone affected by the illness, thankfully," he added. "My daughter is 19 months old, so to have that extended time at home, I’ll never get that again.

"We had a great time. It was a nice time for me because I wasn’t playing the best going into that break. It was a good time to recharge and regroup."

Earlier, Calum Hill, Richie Ramsay, Grant Forrest and Scott Jamieson had all made promising starts in the first of six events on a new six-tournament UK Swing.

Hill, who is in his first season on the main tour after graduating from the Challenge Tour, carded a four-under-par 67.

The 25-year-old, who spent the early part of lockdown in Arizona with his American girlfriend, mixed four birdies with one bogey in the first seven holes.

He was back to two-under after a dropped shot at the par-12th before picking up birdies at the 16th and 17th in a strong finish.

"Solid, not too bad," said Hill of his morning's work. "I had a wee bit of a block going but I’d been hitting it left the last few days and it’s far better to be hitting right than left.

Played solid and putted decent, so it’s good."

Three-time tour winner Ramsay finished birdie-birdie as he signed for a 70, one less than both Forrest and Jamieson.

"It was case of not getting frustrated after not holing anything early on and it was a nice way to finish as finishing level par would have left me feeling it had been a round that got away," said Ramsay.

"At 17, I hit a driver-rescue and then a poor chip but holed it from 15 feet then hit a wedge to 15 feet at the last. It's a good start on a course that can be tricky at times."

Forrest lit up his round with an eagle-3 at the tenth, where the 27-year-old from Haddington chipped in from 16 yards.

"I played nicely and that was as high as it could have been, really," he said. "I was happy with how I hit the ball today, I just couldn't make a putt.

"I was pretty pleased overall for a first competitive round since early March."

Florida-based Jamieson, who had to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the UK, made three birdies in his opening effort.

Lawrie carded two birdies and two bogeys in an afternoon 71, one better than both Connor Syme and Calum Fyfe, who won a qualifier to secure his European Tour debut this week, managed in the morning.

It was a day to forget for the other Scots as Ewen Ferguson had to settle for a 76 and recent Austrian Open winner Marc Warren and David Drysdale both slumped to 78s.

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