You'll not be surprised to learn that Gregoire Schoeb's astonishing 11-under 60 over the New Course yesterday gave him a healthy lead on day one of the St Andrews Links Trophy.
Given that he had never played the course before, Schoeb hired the services of a local caddie to help him negotiate his way around its various nooks and crannies. The alliance with the canny bagman known simply as 'Jim' reaped a handsome reward as the 21-year-old Frenchman pieced together a superbly assembled card that began with a birdie-eagle-birdie blitz on the first three holes and was concluded with a run of four straight birdies from the 15th.
"I love the guy now," said a smiling Schoeb after a rousing round which shaved four shots off the previous course record of 64 set by Nigel Edwards in 2006.
Iceland's Orn Hjartarson also blasted a 60 in the 1998 Links Trophy although the New Course has been tweaked and lengthened since then. Schoeb brought it to its knees yesterday. He holed his second shot from 100 yards at the second, notched another eagle on the par-5 eighth and then trundled in birdie putts of 30-feet, 55-feet and 25-feet at the 16th, 17th and 18th to finish with a flourish.
"It's my best score anywhere by five shots," said the man from Metz, who has been bothered by a niggling wrist injury and admitted that this could be his last event of the season should surgery be required.
Federico Zucchetti, a 6ft 5ins Italian, got himself in on the low scoring spree and reeled off seven birdies in a 64 that left him clinging to the coat tails of Schoeb. He was joined in a share of second by Geoff Drakeford of Australia, while Cawder's Jamie Savage, the reigning Irish Open Strokeplay champion, opened with a purposeful 65.