There was such a lavish birdie feast on day one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, you just about needed a fistful of antacids to combat the over indulgence.

If the original Renaissance was a profound period of artistic, cultural and political rebirth, the explosion of low scoring here at The Renaissance on the outskirts of Gullane would have had minstrels strumming their lutes in fervent abandon.

At one point on the congested standings, there were nine players sharing the lead on seven-under in the kind of log-jam you’d get at that pesky roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass.

By the end of the day, a quartet made up of Matt Kuchar, Romain Wattel, Nino Bertasio and Edoardo Molinari were out in front on eight-under 63s.

In the exalted company of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, meanwhile, Oban’s tour rookie Robert MacIntyre revelled in the marquee grouping and posted a canny 68 which was just one stroke more than world No 3 McIlroy and three better than Fowler.

MacIntyre’s fellow Scot, Richie Ramsay, put on an even better show and rolled in a mighty putt on the last in a six-under 65 to lurk just a couple of shots off the pace.


The doom-laden predictions of meteorological misery, with torrential rain and thunderstorms set to be unleashed, didn’t materialise and the players went about their merry way in largely warm, pleasant and calm conditions which led to a flurry of under-par scores and a general traumatising of the links.

The softness of the terrain, the lack of wind and the pretty accommodating pin positions dismantled any of the fortifications The Renaissance would put up and the collective offensive was robust. At the conclusion of play, 118 players were under par.

Ramsay is quite literally a Renaissance man. He is attached to the club and he gave the home galleries, and a few of the more lubricated members, plenty to shout about with a purposeful round which finished with that flourish from 50-feet on the 18th.

“It was tracking to the hole with about five feet to go and I held my putter up (to celebrate) even though I thought I might be a bit premature,” he said of a raking effort which dropped in the hole.

“The members I know had been enjoying themselves in the bar during the day and were quite happy with that one.

“I tried to be patient out there today. There is obviously a lot of expectation and also a lot of other factors that you think about coming into a week like this. You sometimes put too much pressure on yourself just to play well.

“I think having knowledge of the course here, especially the greens, is helpful, even though the slopes maybe didn’t play into the hands of people like myself due to the greens being a bit softer than normal.”

Ahead of Ramsay, it looked like Molinari would steal a march on the field and break away from the pack as he reached the nine-under mark thanks to a thrust aided considerably by a pair of eagles on his 10th and 16th holes.

A spilled shot on his 17th, however, dropped him back into a tie for top spot. Molinari’s brother, Francesco, will defend his Open crown next week. Edoardo is not in the Portrush field just yet but a could still plunder one of three Open places up for grabs here.

And if he doesn’t? “It would obviously be special to be there when Francesco is the defending champion but I’ve planned a summer holiday with my wife and two kids, so I definitely won’t go (if I don’t get in),” said the Italian who won the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2010. “If I’m not at Portrush, I will be lying on the beach in Portofino.”

On the spate of low scoring, meanwhile, Molinari added: “It’s not nice sitting in the players’ lounge on a Thursday seeing the leader already at eight-under, knowing you have to out and play catch-up.”

Kuchar also reeled off a couple of eagles in his 63 while Frenchman Wattel, a winner of the Scottish Strokeplay title as an amateur at Gailes in 2010, bounded home in 29 to leap into a share of the lead.

As for Scotland’s man of the moment MacIntyre? Well, it was another sturdy display under the spotlight.


“On the first tee, I’ve never experienced anything like that,” he said of a rousing reception which he followed up with a birdie on the first.

“There were plenty of nerves. On the first hole, I was shaking the whole way up it. I had a three-footer for the birdie and I was still shaking. Once that went in and I got over that hole, I was free-rolling.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, was reasonably satisfied with his opening card. “I think they were pretty generous in terms of the course set-up because they have never been here before,” he suggested.

“The rain softened things up and any links course we come to without much wind, people are going to rip it apart.

“But I don’t mind. The easy week I want to be this week and the difficult one next week (at the Open).

“You don’t want to get worn out but at the same time you want this to be a bit of a challenge.”

McIlroy also had some words of praise for MacIntyre whom he had watched make a fine fist of a challenge at the British Masters where the Scot finished second

“ I said to Bob that I enjoyed watching him at Hillside,” added McIlroy. “I was in the States at the time, but I turned on the golf and he was in contention at Hillside and he played very well. He played great here too and handled it well.”