Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Lawrie sets early pace

Peter Lawrie

Ireland's Peter Lawrie was off to a spectacular start in the Barclays Scottish Open at its new venue Castle Stuart near Inverness today.

Lawrie, in the first group off at 7.30am, birdied five of the first six holes - yet his lead was only one.

Northern Irishman Michael Hoey, winner of the British amateur title at Prestwick a decade ago, also lapped up a return to links golf by following birdies on the 10th and 11th with an eagle at the 530-yard 12th.

And just one behind him after setting off on the front nine with a hat-trick of birdies was England's Danny Willett, a member of the same Walker Cup team as Rory McIlroy four years ago.

It all showed that with only a moderate wind low scoring was the order of the day.

The world's top two Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both began with par figures at the 10th and 11th, but Donald's playing partner Colin Montgomerie, needing a top-five finish if he is to play in next week's Open, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 363-yard 10th along the banks of the Moray Firth.

Fellow Scot Martin Laird, over from the States for these two weeks, strayed much closer to the water than he intended on the short 11th.

He was forced to take a penalty drop and did well to drop just one shot, but it had come after an opening birdie and so he was level par.

Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell were amongst the later starters.