On a day for “goofy golf” – local hero Russell Knox’s description, not mine – Craig Lee recovered manfully from a disastrous start to lead a 16-strong home challenge at Castle Stuart.
“I wasn’t thinking about packing my suitcase and heading down the road,” admitted the Stirling man afterwards as he reflected on finding himself three-over after just two holes. “But it was certainly a horrendous start.” He took 5 at the first as a gust blew his second into the thick stuff. Going for the green with his approach, he then found a bush at the second and signed for a 7. “I only hit one bad shot,” he insisted.
Three birdies in the next four holes repaired the damage, leaving the 39-year-old “delighted” with his opening effort. “I still had a smile on my face but, when you throw three shots away in the first two holes, you have a long day ahead of you, especially in a wind like this,” admitted the former Tartan Tour player.
Knox matched three of his compatriots – David Drysdale, Richie Ramsay and Jack Doherty – in signing for a 70 on his eagerly-anticipated first appearance in this event on the outskirts of his home city. The Scottish No 1 enjoyed seeing some friendly faces out supporting him but found the conditions a lot tougher than what he’s become used to in the United States.
“It’s goofy golf when it’s this windy,” he said. “I haven’t played in too many tougher rounds, to be honest. So I’m happy with my round.” The 31-year-old was far from enamoured, though, with the closing hole playing at 607 yards into the teeth of the wind. “It’s a terrible set up in my opinion,” he said. “They could have easily moved us up a tee. I disagree with that hole today. I hit three good shots – a driver, 3-wood and 5-iron only to be nowhere near the hole – and three bad putts.”
Among a posse of Scots fighting to survive the cut is Colin Montgomerie after he struggled to a 78, one more than Dornoch man Jimmy Gunn.