SCOT Lloyd Saltman hailed a virtually flawless round after equalling his best 18 holes as a professional on the first day of the Madeira Islands Open.
The Edinburgh-based 27-year-old carded an eight-under-par 64 to take a two-shot lead from England’s Richard Bland.
Saltman was four under after five holes and two further birdies around the turn meant he covered the first 11 holes in 39 strokes. However, an oversight in hitting the wrong club at the short 315-yard par-four 12th cost him his only bogey of the day, although he bounced back with three birdies in the last six holes.
“I just played really well tee to green and made the putts I needed to make and my short game was really good as well so I can’t really pick any faults from that round,” said the former Walker Cup player.
“I’ve been working very hard trying to get the game as good as I can and it’s nice to see the work paying off. I have put myself in a great position and I’m here to win.”
The one error Saltman, who tied for fourth at this tournament in 2011, made cost him a shot at the 12th.
“It was a momentum killer. It’s a short hole and I was only going in with a wedge but, for the first time in my life, I actually took the wrong club out,” he told europeantour.com.
“I hit the shot and it was only when I gave the club back to my caddie I realised I hit a 58 degree instead of a 54.
“I have never done that but I was so into the number and the shot I didn’t even look at the club and it went into the bunker.
“That was my only mistake so it was pretty close to a flawless round.”
Bland, who started at the 10th, signed for a 66 after also dropping just one shot – on the 412-yard fifth.
Scotland’s Craig Lee, Chile’s Mark Tullo and Swede Joakim Lagergren all share third place on five under par.