Grant Forrest and Craig Howie off to strong starts in Cazoo Classic at Hillside
Forrest, who will defend his Hero Open title at Fairmont St Andrews next week, opened with a bogey-free 66, one less than Howie, who carded six birdies in his opening salvo at the Southport venue.
“It was a good start,” said Forrest of his effort, which left him sitting three shots off the pace after England’s Paul Waring came in with a blistering 63 that contained an eagle and eight birdies late in the day.
“It has kind of been a while since I have gone out and really started a tournament well, so it was nice to get on the front foot early and play good golf today. I think the worst shot today was on the last hole into the green, but I made four, lots of good stuff in there.”
The 29-year-old has been fighting a hip injury in recent months but feels a spring is beginning to come back in his step.
“It has been a bit of a struggle this year so far, but I just feel things are starting to come together,” he added. “My long game today was the best it has been for a long time.
“I love the course, it gives you so many options off the tees. You can try and be aggressive, but you need to be really accurate if you are, or you can play conservatively and still make birdies.”
Howie, who has produced some solid stuff in his rookie season on the main tour, was equally pleased with his day’s work on the Lancashire coast.
“It was a solid round, didn’t really do a lot wrong, so pretty stress free, which was nice,” said the Peebles player.
Richie Ramsay (69) and David Drysdale (71) also ended the day in red figures while Bob MacIntyre and Ewen Ferguson both signed for 73s.
Elsewhere, Gemma Dryburgh opened with a level-par in the Amundi Evian Championship, the penultimate women’s major of the season, in France.
On a day when Japan’s Ayaka Furue set the pace with a 63, Dryburgh, who is the sole Scot in the field, mixed three birdies with three bogeys.
Meanwhile, Neil Fenwick was forced to pull out of this week’s Challenge Tour event in Germany due to his clubs being lost in the chaos at Edinburgh Airport earlier in the week.
As visitors from around the world headed home following the 150th Open at St Andrews, images of golf bags piled high in the terminal went viral on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
The situation has now led to Edinburgh man Fenwick missing out on an appearance in the Big Green Egg German Challenge at Wittelsbacher Golf Club in Neuburg an der Donau.
The 2020 Tartan Pro Tour Order of Merit winner had been due to tee off at 2.30pm in Thursday’s opening round but, with his clubs still not having turned up, he withdrew.
“It’s been a disaster,” Fenwick told The Scotsman. “My clubs never arrived and, with only eight starts, I felt there was no point in wasting one playing with a cobbled-together set.
“It’s a nightmare for me and I’m gutted but feel I had to make the decision to give me best chances to make use of my starts.
“Travel is a nightmare at the moment it and seems I got unlucky on Monday at Edinburgh, which was a complete disaster earlier in the week.”