Favourite tartan trousers do the trick - Justin Thomas finds top form in Genesis Scottish Open

American shoots his best score by two shots with bogey-free effort at The Renaissance Club

Justin Thomas trousered the lead in the first round of the Genesis Scottish Open wearing his favourite pair of tartan breeks at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

Taking advantage of the afternoon starters in particular facing fairly benign conditions, the two-time PGA champion carded a bogey-free eight-under-par 62 to hold a one-shot advantage over Korean Sungjae Im.

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It was the 54th time in the last decade that Thomas had carded eight birdies or more in a round – the most on the PGA Tour since the beginning of the 2014 season.

NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND - JULY 11: Justin Thomas of the United States reacts to birdie putt on the 10th green during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 11, 2024 in North Berwick, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND - JULY 11: Justin Thomas of the United States reacts to birdie putt on the 10th green during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 11, 2024 in North Berwick, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND - JULY 11: Justin Thomas of the United States reacts to birdie putt on the 10th green during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 11, 2024 in North Berwick, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In addition, it was also the first time the 31-year-old found himself leading an event in 781 days and he admitted: “It's great. I love links golf. I love just the creativity and the kind of the artistic side that you can play some shots with.”

The effort, which was illuminated by a burst of four straight birdies on his front nine, beat his best score on the Tom Doak-designed by two shots and was a six-shot improvement on his opening score 12 months ago, when he ended up in a tie for 60th.

“On a day like today where there's no wind and it's softer, you can be a little more aggressive," admitted Thomas, whose last win was in the PGA Championship more than two years ago, “but you still hit some shots here and there that I wouldn't hit back in the States.”

Thomas, who became the youngest-ever player to shoot 59 when achieving that feat as a 23-year-old in Hawaii in 2017, had the magical number in his sights again after getting to eight under with five holes to play.

“Yeah, it did,” he said of that thought coming into his mind. “Honestly, I thought the par was 71, and then I looked up and I saw like even par 70, and I was like, I just need a couple more.

“I'm like, I can shoot 59. And then, shockingly, I made five pars in a row, so that kind of pissed me off as soon as I started thinking about it. But, yeah, I wanted it, and I was even thinking a couple lower, so we all know how that works out when you get ahead of yourself.”

As has become a bit of a tradition, Thomas played at North Berwick with Rickie Fowler earlier in the week, with a fairly sizeable crowd having gathered by the time they holed out on the 18th green.

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“It's great,” he said of that preparation in addition to what he also did at this week’s venue. “I think it's like my third or fourth time. I try to go play on Monday or Tuesday when I get here. I mean, it's awesome. It's such a cool golf course. Everybody there has been very nice. I'd like to play some of the other ones around here, but I love North Berwick so much. It's hard to not go there.”

As for those tartan trousers, Thomas said: “It would be strange wearing them in Columbus, Ohio, but I wore them at The Open a couple of years ago. I haven’t worn them in two years, so I'm glad I brought them back!”

"I’m signed for nine birdies to sit a shot ahead of five players, including world No 4 Ludvig Aberg. Defending champion Rory McIlroy is already lurking ominous on five under, with Tommy Fleetwood on the same mark with his first outing with Ian Finnis on the bag after his open heart surgery earlier in the year.

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