St Andrews – Australia’s Marcus Fraser came through “brutal” conditions to share the lead with England’s Matt Wallace after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.
Despite strong winds making life tough for the 168-strong field, Fraser still shot a four-under par total of 68 at Carnoustie, one of the three courses used for the European Tour pro-am event.
Wallace, who failed to qualify for Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team despite three wins this season, carded the same score on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington, who is the favourite to succeed this year’s winning European skipper Thomas Bjorn in 2020, both shot 69 at Kingsbarns to lie a shot off the lead alongside Phachara Khongwatmai, Choi Jin-ho and Matthias Schwab.
Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, seeking a third straight win in the tournament, was a shot further back on two-under, with the Englishman alongside reigning US Open and US PGA champion Brooks Koepka.
A wayward Hatton shot left a woman bloodied with a head wound, less than a week after a spectator was blinded in one eye at the Ryder Cup, after the incident on the 15th hole at Kingsbarns.
She was treated on the course by paramedics before being taken by buggy to the medical centre on site.
Frenchwoman Corine Remande suffered a serious eye injury after being struck by a Koepka drive during last Friday’s opening day of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, near Paris.
But the initial indications were that Thursday’s incident would not have such serious effects.
Meanwhile Fraser, who carded five birdies at Carnoustie, the course where Italy’s Francesco Molinari won this year’s British Open, told Sky Sports: “It’s brutal out there. It’s probably the toughest wind I’ve played this course in today. It was nice to play pretty steady and hole a few putts.
“Downwind was just as hard as into the wind, it was really tricky to control it and try to get the right distances. We were out by probably 20-30 yards some times but it just can’t be helped. You get a firm bounce and it just takes off.”
Leading and selected first-round scores in the Alfred Dunhill Links European Tour event at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews on Thursday (par 72, GBR and IRL unless stated):
68 – Matt Wallace, Marcus Fraser (AUS)
69 – Matthias Schwab (AUT), Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA), Choi Jin-Ho (KOR)
70 – Brooks Koepka (USA), Peter Hanson (SWE), Marcus Kinhult (SWE), Tyrrell Hatton, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Lucas Herbert (AUS)
71 – Jason Scrivener (AUS), Tom Lewis, Stephen Gallacher, Tommy Fleetwood, Brandon Stone (RSA), Oliver Bekker (RSA), Peter Karmis (GRE), Ryan Fox (NZL), Lee Slattery, Alexander Levy (FRA)
72 – Ernie Els (RSA), Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
73 – Tony Finau (USA), Matt Kuchar (USA)
75 – Martin Kaymer (GER), Trevor Immelman (RSA)