HOGAN’S Alley just about became a dead end street for David Drysdale on day one of the Dunhill Links Championship but after coming a cropper at Carnoustie, the Scot got himself back on the right road to lead the home challenge with a three-under 69

The par-five sixth on the formidable Angus links – named after the great Ben Hogan who conquered Carnoustie in the 1953 Open – can be a perilous palaver and Drysdale got himself in a bit of pickle after putting himself in a nice position off the tee and ended up with a seven.

“I’d hit a nice drive into the middle of the fairway and was trying to hit a low 2-iron but it hit the bunker face in front of me,” he reported. “I chipped out, couldn’t get up with a 3-wood and took five shots to reach the green. Other than that, it was a solid round.”

Loading article content

The repair job was akin to a panel beater clattering out the dents and Drysdale set about his task with purpose. Birdies at the 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th in testing conditions spoke volumes for Drysdale’s powers of recovery on a testing day as he equalled the lowest score at Carnoustie.

“I played the back nine really well in tough conditions,” added Drysdale, who had a top-10 finish in the Dunhill Links a couple of years which effectively safeguarded his tour card. “It was tricky, as Carnoustie always is. I’ve done pretty well in this tournament in the past and it is nice to get Carnoustie out of the way at the start as it’s normally the toughest of the three.”

Marc Warren continued his recent resurgence with a sturdy two-under 70 at Carnoustie while Scott Jamieson posted a similar score at Kingsbarns.

Richie Ramsay had been two-over at the turn at Kingsbarns but dug deep to winkle out a one-under round. “I could have played myself out of the tournament but fortunately I managed to play my way back in,” said Ramsay, who finished eighth in last week’s British Masters.

“I’m proud of the way I bounced back after some rookie mistakes. You just have to keep battling.”

Connor Syme, the Fife rookie who is making just his second appearance in the pro ranks, was happy to emerge with a level-par 72 from the rigorous examination of Carnoustie.

The highlight came on the tough par-three 16th where he holed a birdie putt of some 40-feet after his 4-iron tee-shot. “That was a cool moment,” said Syme with a smile. “There are not many twos made there and that one felt like an eagle. Level par wasn’t bad at all on probably the toughest course. There’s no damage done.”

Duncan Stewart couldn’t say the same, though. His turbulent 82 at Kingsbarns left the Scot at the foot of the standings.