Padraig Harrington. Photo by Golffile
Padraig Harrington got off to a flier at the Scottish Championship, Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. The Stackstown man rolled back the years as he posted an opening 66 to lie in a four-way tie for fourth place and just four shots behind Spaniard Adrian Otaegui who had a sensational 62.
Harrington got off to a good start birdieing the par 4 2nd but dropped a shot of the par 5 3rd, his only bogey of the round. The Dubliner then had two more birdies on the par 5 6th and another one on the par4 9th to make the turn two under.
Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain picked up four more birdies on the 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th to finish on six under for the tournament.
“I couldn’t be happier with how I’m playing at this stage,” he said. “It’s just a mental thing when you haven’t been on the golf course. I liked what I saw the first three weeks, that’s why I’m here for the fourth week.
“Today, it was pretty steady as I drove the ball well, so you’re going to have opportunities if you do that. I also hit my irons well, which I hadn’t been doing. I didn’t chip well. A couple of those short par fours on the front nine, the dropped shot on the third hole, were all poor chip shots. I made up for it later in the round."
“My back nine, certainly my last ten holes, I scored nicely on. Those first eight holes I probably hit four or five weak chips but then I just need to try to be a bit more committed tomorrow. That would normally be my strong point, but whatever. Hopefully that’s not going to be the way for the next three days and I’ll chip it a bit better.
“There are plenty of opportunities on these par fives and par fours to get the ball in and around the green in one under regulation, so if you hit a good chip you’re making a birdie”.
Jonathan Caldwell was next best of the five Irishmen in the field, posting a two under 70. It could have been so much better for the Clandeboye man as he picked up three birdies on the front nine and made the turn three under.
Bogeys on the par 4 13th and par 4 15th undid his good work but he managed to lick up a birdie the last to finish on two under for the day and in sixteen way tie for 30th place.
Gavin Moynihan had three bogeys on the front nine to turn on three over. He then five birdies on the back nine but also had bogeys on the par 4 13th and par 4 15th to leave him level par for his opening round.
Cormac Sharvin had four birdies, four bogeys and one double bogey on the par 4 15th to finish on two over for the tournament and Nial Kearney shot three over 75.
A brilliant burst of scoring at the beginning of both nines helped early starter Adrian Otaegui reach ten under par at a cold Fairmont St Andrews on Thursday.
That sent him into the clubhouse with a four shot lead over his nearest challengers at the time but he was reined in ever so slightly in the afternoon by Matt Wallace and Bryce Easton, who both made eagles in their 65s.
European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington was in the group another stroke back in a tie for fourth after notching four birdies in his last seven holes as the weather turned colder in the late afternoon.
Englishmen Aaron Rai, Garrick Porteous and Chris Paisley also produced opening 66s to sit four shots off the lead.
Two time European Tour champion Otaegui began his first round with a hat-trick of birdies at the first, second and third before picking up another shot at the seventh to reach the turn in 32.
Adrian Otaegui. Photo by Golffile
The Spaniard then repeated the trick on the back nine, following up a birdie at the tenth with further gains on the par three 11th and long 12th to jump to seven under par.
He tapped in from around three feet at the 15th before closing with back to back birdies at the 17th and 18th to get into double figures under par.
Otaegui was pleased with his start to the tournament. He said: "Almost everything went well today.
"I started with three birdies and actually there were two birdie holes that I didn't birdie - the fourth and sixth - but then obviously I made some very good birdies on some other holes.
"I putted really well, I also played very well from tee to green and felt confident and relaxed - 62 is really, really good."
Matt Wallace got off to a lightning quick start, reeling off three birdies in a row from the first - the highlight of which was a beautiful approach into the second that landed around two feet from the cup.
The four time European Tour winner's putter was working brilliantly and he holed from range for an eagle at the sixth to jump to five under.
Wallace continued to create birdie chances, narrowly missing from six feet on the seventh before picking up his fifth shot of the day from close range at the eighth.
He took advantage of the back nine's first par five - the 12th - courtesy of a birdie putt from four feet, before safely parring his way home.
Wallace faces a short turnaround as he begins his second round tomorrow morning but he insisted he does not mind when he tees off.
He said: "I really don't care. Early morning, whatever, it doesn't bother me.
"It's nice to get a score in the afternoon then get out in the morning but we don't know what the conditions will be like.
"It'll be cold tomorrow morning, it might be quite tough starting on the tenth - one of the harder holes on the course.
"I don't really mind. Late on Saturday and Sunday would be nice!"
Matt Wallace. Photo by Golffile
Late starter Easton, who knows this place well having spent his wedding night at the resort overlooking the famous town of St Andrews, opened with a bogey at the tenth - his first hole - before making amends with birdies at the 12th, 13th and 15th.
He dropped another shot at the 16th but produced a magnificent eagle on the 18th to head to the turn with a spring in his step.
The 33-year-old then reeled off birdies at the first, third, sixth and seventh to join Wallace in a share of second place.
He said: "A 65 is always good and even though it’s not as windy as it has been over the last couple of days, and the course is playing a bit easier, to be out there in the cold and have two good nines, finishing in the dark and finishing strongly on a couple of holes, I’m stoked with seven under."
Easton, who is without his wife and caddie Lauren for the first time in a while this week, added: "Our family is growing. Lauren is still at home, it’s the first tournament she’s missed in two and a half years she’s been on the bag.
"Some new experiences coming up for us, for sure."