FORMER Dunbar assistant Terry Mathieson produced a “hell of an effort” to set a scorching pace in the Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside.
The 32-year-old tamed testing conditions on the outskirts of Aberdeen to card a five-under-par 65 in the opening round of the 54-hole event.
It earned Mathieson, who also worked at Kings Acre after moving to Edinburgh for a spell from his native north-east, a two-shot advantage over the field and a five-shot cushion on the tournament host.
Leading the praise for Mathieson’s storming start, Lawrie said: “That was a hell of an effort as it wasn’t easy out there.
“The wind was swirling quite a bit and, though I didn’t play very well, I still thought my score was decent.”
Mathieson, who is now an assistant at Murcar Links, made his score with four birdies on the front nine.
He was six-under for his round playing the last but dropped a shot there after going through the back of the green with his approach at the par-4.
Despite that, he still signed for the lowest score of his four-year professional career.
“I’ve been saying for a while that I’ve felt a score like that has been coming but people probably think you’re daft when you are shooting in the 70s,” said the leader. “I’ve been fully qualified for a year and a half now so I’ve been trying to play a bit more than last year.”
Mathieson admitted he’s been inspired by Neil Fenwick after seeing his former Dunbar colleague making his presence felt on the Tartan Tour over the past couple of seasons.
“Neil and I are good mates and watching him do well has given me a kick up the backside,” he added.
“My game wasn’t good enough to have a crack at the Qualifying School this year and I’ve just bought a house so there are bills to pay.
“But I wouldn’t say that I have given up on my dream of becoming a Tour professional one day.”
Fenwick reckoned that “fatigue” was behind his opening 76 in the Granite City, where Gareth Wright led the Lothians challenge after day one.
The West Linton player opened with a 68, which also included a 5 at the last, to sit in a share of fourth spot.
“It was a steady start,” reported Wright, who has his sights set firmly on a top-3 finish on the Tartan Tour Order of Merit.