Mention the names Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth to Jack Senior and he’ll just about roll his eyes back into his own skull and deliver a wearisome sigh.

“It just comes up every time I seem to play well,” said the canny Lancashire lad who certainly played well at The Renaissance yesterday as he set a sprightly pace in the abrdn Scottish Open with a purposeful seven-under 64.

At 353rd on the world rankings, Senior is not quite operating on a par with the major-winning duo of Thomas and Spieth but a decade ago he was more than a match for the American pair as he beat them both during a thrilling run to the semi-finals of the US Amateur Championship.

Yesterday, he trumped Thomas again and finished one stroke clear of the world No 3, who illuminated his own card with an outrageous eagle putt that was so long, his ball just about had to stop for a breather halfway to the hole.

Senior’s professional career may not have been burnished by the shimmering silverware that Thomas and Spieth have accumulated since they departed the amateur ranks but the 32-year-old still has plenty of victories to his name on the third and second-tiers. In this game, winning is never easy, at any level. 

“They (Thomas and Spieth) are world-class players but I'm trying to be the best possible golfer I can be every single week,” said Senior, who packed eight birdies into a surging round but was left to rue a bogey on his final hole. “I've had a steady pro career with highs and lows. But I’ve never been a quitter. I've always believed in myself and my ability. If I don't believe that, I wouldn't be out here playing.”

The home of golf has been something of a happy hunting ground for Senior down the seasons. He was a Walker Cup winner with GB&I at Royal Aberdeen in 2011 before he made the pro plunge and won on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Montrose in 2014 and then landed the Scottish Hydro Challenge title on the Challenge Tour in Aviemore a year later.

Now, Senior is looking to up the ante and claim a maiden European Tour win against a stellar field that is so star-studded, it should appear among the constellations.

It’s a challenge Senior is keen to embrace. “I've won at every single level I've played at,” he added. “I can get across the line and I feel comfortable when I'm at the top of the leaderboard. I don't shy away when I'm out in front.”

He may be revelling in his lofty perch but you could forgive Senior for getting a touch of the heebie-jeebies at the sight of the heavy artillery assembling behind him. Lee Westwood was tucked alongside Thomas on six-under while world No 1 Jon Rahm and last year’s runner-up Tommy Fleetwood were lurking a further stroke back.

On a pleasant, benign East Lothian day, the softened up Renaissance course was as vulnerable as a newly-born gazelle on the Serengeti. “It's as calm as I've seen any Scottish course play, it was bizarre,” admitted Ian Poulter after a fine 66. 

Thomas prospered too. The former US PGA champion casually admitted after his 65 that his round featured “nothing crazy good” although a raking putt of over 90-feet for his three on the par-5 seventh had many begging to differ. “That was a steal,” he said with a wry grin. “You obviously never plan on making a 100-footer or whatever it was but the hole got in the way perfectly.”

Westwood’s six-under score was neatly assembled as the 48-year-old took advantage of the Renaissance knowledge he accumulated during regular visits here when he lived in Edinburgh for a spell. “They were kind enough to make me an honorary member here and I came and practiced a lot," said the 1998 champion. "I think the longest par putt I holed today was two feet, which shows I was never under any stress.”

Rahm, making his first outing since winning the US Open, aided his 66 with three birdies in a row from the 11th as the Spaniard again showed a fondness for the links game which has already brought him two Irish Open wins by the sea.

Rory McIlroy experienced a topsy-turvy round but a brace of late birdies at 16 and 17 for a one-under 70 made his supper taste better.