You learn something every day at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Bradley Simpson, for instance, is a singer with a pop band called The Vamps. But I’m sure most of you Herald readers knew that anyway.

As for the golf writers? Well, given that our idea of modern music is a Renaissance lute recital, the prospect of speaking about those aforementioned Vamps to a young, thrusting Ewen Ferguson was as awkward a notion as a dog delivering the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures. “I'm a big Vamps fan and know a lot of their songs,” chirped Scotsman Ferguson. At that point, we moved swiftly on to the golf.

Ferguson is partnering Simpson in this week’s celebrity-infused Pro-Am and the pair found themselves climbing to the top of the hit parade in the team contest. On the individual front, Ferguson’s seven-under 65 on the Old Course had him sitting in the upper echelons of the leaderboard as the Bearsden man made the most of his invitation to this extremely lucrative golfing party.

The 25-year-old is currently sitting fourth on the second-tier Challenge Tour rankings and has already guaranteed promotion to the main European circuit next season. There’s nothing to lose this week. Given the purse here is a mighty £4.7m, there’s potentially plenty to gain, though.

Ferguson’s tidy, seven-birdie round left him just a shot behind joint leaders, Nicolas Colsaerts, Tyrrell Hatton, Adri Arnaus and Haotong Li. The former British Boys’ champion has done just about everything but win on the Challenge Tour this season. Three seconds, a third, a fourth and a fifth have burnished a purposeful campaign but getting over that winning line is not easy.

“I think I've been trying too hard to get it done,” said Ferguson, who has fully recovered from contracting Coronavirus earlier in the month. “I know my game is in a good place and I'm doing the right things. If I keep doing that, it will come.”

What about a breakthough in one of the European Tour’s richest events in the home of golf? “It would be unbelievable to win here, a dream come true, but there’s a long way to go,” he said of an event which also includes demanding rounds at Kingsbarns and Carnoustie in what is forecast to be fairly boisterous conditions over the next couple of days. “Hopefully one day, I can win here. You never know, it could be a lot sooner than we think.”

Ahead of Ferguson, Colsaerts, a Ryder Cup player at Medinah in 2012, set a robust early pace with a cracking 64 over the Old Course. A bogey on the second didn’t offer any indication of the fireworks to come but Colsaerts exploded into life with an eagle on the fifth. He reeled off another four birdies before clattering a 3-wood into the 14th and holing a putt of some 30-feet for another eagle. “I came here with no game whatsoever as I haven’t played at all for two weeks,” he said. “But this is my lowest round at St Andrews.” It’s a funny old game.

On a tightly packed leaderboard that was as busy as a petrol station with freshly-filled pumps, Hatton showed no lingering effects of last week’s Ryder Cup disappointment. His wonderfully assembled 64 at formidable Carnoustie included a thrilling back nine of just 29 which was ignited by a birdie, birdie, eagle burst at the 10th, 11th and 12th. “I didn't actually realise, I just signed my card,” said the two-time Dunhill Links champion of being oblivious to the surging score he had put together.

Tommy Fleetwood, who holds the Carnoustie course record of 63, zipped around the Angus links in 66 to lurk among the leaders while his Ryder Cup team-mate Shane Lowry opened with a 71. The European skipper Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, returned to playing duties after that sobering experience at Whistling Straits and posted a 75 over the Carnoustie links where he won The Open back in 2007.

Speaking for the first time since the 19-9 reversal to the USA last weekend, Harrington admitted that the US have finally learned some of Europe’s trade secrets. “We’ve taught them a thing or two over the last 20 years,” he said. “They’ve caught on. Every little bit of innovation that Europe has introduced to gain an edge, they have now.

“But we don’t need to change anything. Two years is a long time in golf. We could be in the ascendency by then. We should just keep going forward with what we’re doing. There’s no need to panic.”