x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Golf: Francesco Molinari rolls to record round at Scottish Open

Francesco Molinari scorches the Castle Stuart links for a record-tying opening round of 62 recording no bogeys and 10 birdies.

Francesco Molinari found little trouble navigating around the Castle Stuart links with 10 birdies against no bogeys on Thursday.
Francesco Molinari found little trouble navigating around the Castle Stuart links with 10 birdies against no bogeys on Thursday.

INVERNESS, Scotland // Francesco Molinari took advantage of calm conditions to shoot a flawless 10-under 62 at the Scottish Open on Thursday, taking a three-stroke lead midway through a low-scoring first round of the British Open warm-up event.

The Italian Ryder Cup player rolled in 10 birdies on a still, dry morning at the Castle Stuart links course to match the previous best round in the tournament's 40-year history, set by Paul Curry in 1992 when he shot a 60 at the par-70 Gleneagles.

"It's fantastic to have two rounds like this and in Paris one after the other," said Molinari. "I hope to continue this form a bit longer, not just for the [British] Open next week but for the Ryder Cup [in September]."

Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark was also bogey free to lead the chasing pack on 7 under, with top-ranked Luke Donald two shots farther back in the defence of his title despite a sloppy finish to his round of 67.

All of Molinari's birdies came on the first 15 holes - starting on the back nine - meaning he has posted 19 birdies in the last 32 holes he has played. He made four straight birdies on holes 3-6 to give himself a chance of shooting the European Tour's first ever 59.

However, he finished with three pars.

The lack of wind meant the course, which hugs the Moray Firth stretch of water in northern Scotland, was there for the taking. The conditions couldn't have been more different to 12 months ago, when the event was reduced to 54 holes after torrential rain and thunder storms caused landslides on two holes.

Donald, who won last year with a score of 19 under over three rounds, picked up where he left off to sit 7 under after 13 holes.

But he fluffed a short chip beside the fifth green to make bogey and also dropped a shot on No 8 - his 17th hole. "I was just a smidgen off today but I'm very close to being where I want to be," he said.

Ernie Els had a forgetful opening round, needing four shots to get out of a bunker and then talking to European Tour referee Andy McFee about an alleged infraction called in by a viewer.

"Some viewer called in and thought I did something, which I didn't," explained Els, who said that he "was slightly embarrassed" by his bunker issues.

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