Now, here’s a statement that will send rumblings through the Carnoustie Links Management Committee.

“I think Carnoustie over the years has got a little easier,” said Rory McIlroy. He’ll be in danger of being tried for heresy and plunged into the Barry Burn after that.

From Car-nasty, as many have called it, to Car-nicey? Surely not. “With trying to accommodate a lot of spectators for The Open Championship, they have taken a lot of the gorse out, which makes a lot of the tee shots easier where you really had to think about some of them,” added McIlroy, who still never managed to bring to the course to its knees with a two-under 70 on day one of the Dunhill Links.

“I think that’s probably why you’re seeing a few lower scores around Carnoustie than you’re used to seeing.”


Matthew Southgate, the Englishman who is a member at Carnoustie, was one of those who prospered on a relatively inviting day for scoring as he blasted a seven-under 65 to sit two shots off the overall lead in this three-venue Pro-Am affair.

It’s been a topsy turvy season for Southgate on the European circuit this season but he clicked yesterday with a delightfully assembled round that was bolstered by a thrust of three birdies and an eagle in five holes from the 10th.

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“The last few years I’ve struggled at this event when it gets so cold because I’m such a feel player,” he said. “If I lose the feeling in my hands it’s a bit of a nightmare But we were blessed with the weather today. I didn’t really hit a bad shot all day.”

Elsewhere across the various venues, Kinross’s Calum Hill, who will be promoted to next year’s European Tour from the Challenge Tour rankings, showed his qualities with a six-under 66 at Kingsbarns while Barassie rookie Euan Walker, playing in just his second event as a pro, had a four-under 68 over the Old Course.

“It’s still the same isn’t it?,” he said of the transition from the amateur game. “It’s just golf and I’m just trying to do my best.”