Capital-based Richie Ramsay was among four Scots to make winning starts in the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play at Archerfield Links.
But it wasn’t the return from a two-month injury-off that Lothians star Stephen Gallacher was looking for as he crashed to a heavy first-round defeat in East Lothian.
Ramsay, who is attached to The Renaissance Club next door, claimed one of the best wins of the day as he beat two-time Ryder Cup player David Howell by one hole to join tournament host Lawrie, Marc Warren and Craig Lee in the last 32.
Howell, a semi-finalist in the last year’s inaugural event at Murcar Links, had clawed back from three down with five to play to take the game up the last. The Englishman must also have fancied his chances of extending it into extra holes after Ramsay pulled his approach at the par-5 into thick rough. But the Scot rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt across to green to set up a second-round tie this morning against Finn Roope Kakko.
“It was a good putt at the last to finish it as David is a very dangerous player,” said Ramsay. “He is pretty deadly when he gets his putter going, so I knew I had to keep my foot on the gas.”
The three-time European Tour winner had Irishman Colin Byrne on his bag when he finished joint-third in last month’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, a performance that got him into the following week’s Open at Royal Troon.
“I have Nick Fidgeon on the bag this week but he and Colin are going to job share,” reported Ramsay. “I think it could work. It will keep it fresh as they are just going to do a few weeks each between now and the end of the year.”
Gallacher’s first outing with his new swing got off to the worst possible start when he found the trees on the opening two holes on the DJ Russell-designed Fidra Links that is staging a European Tour event for the first time.
Italian teenager Renato Paratore cashed in to win both of them and was a superb seven-under-par for 12 holes as he recorded a 7&6 victory over the Scot. “It wasn’t the start I was hoping for but there wasn’t much I could do against someone who was seven-under-par for 12 holes,” said Gallacher afterwards. “I was a bit rusty at the start but any time I felt I had a good chance at a hole, he knocked it in. The wrist felt fine and I played pretty nice after the first two holes but not seven-under nice.”
West Linton PGA pro Gareth Wright, who won a qualifier on Monday to earn his place in the field, won the first two holes against Englishman Daniel Brooks but watched his opponent hit back with a vengeance to claim a 4&3 victory.
“To be fair to Daniel, he was six-under for the day, so I can’t complain,” said Wright. “If he keeps playing like that he can go a long way. It was a great event to play in and a great opportunity and thanks has to go to Paul Lawrie for letting me have that opportunity.”
Results: Haydn Porteous (SA) bt John Parry (Eng) at 19th; David Horsey (Eng) bt Sebastian Gros (Fra) 6&4; James Morrison (Eng) bt Alvaro Quiros (Esp) 6&5; Graeme Storm (Eng) bt Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 2&1; Simon Khan (Eng) bt Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 2&1; Oliver Fisher (Eng) bt Peter Uihlein (USA) at 22nd; Johan Carlsson (Swe) bt Morten Orum Madsen (Den) 2&1; Robert Rock (Eng) bt Gary Stal (Fra) 3&2; Marc Warren (Sco) bt Jorge Campillo (Esp) 3&2; Magnus Carlsson (Swe) bt Chase Koepka (USA) 4&3; Matthew Southgate (Eng) bt Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) at 19th; Michael Hoey (Nire) bt David Drysdale (Sco) 4&3; Richie Ramsay (Sco) bt David Howell (Eng) one hole; Roope Kakko (Fin) bt Gregory Havret (Fra) at 20th; Chris Paisley (Eng) bt Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 2&1; Prom Meesawat (Thai) bt David Lipsky (USA) 1 hole; Richard Green (Aus) bt Lee Slattery (Eng) 3&2; Paul Lawrie (Sco) bt Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 4&2; Eduardo De La Riva (Esp) bt Callum Shinkwin (Eng) at 19th; Alejandro Canizares (Esp) Mike Lorenzo Vera (Fra) at 19th; Mikko Ilonen (Fin) bt Jin Jeong (Kor) 3&2; Maximilian Keiffer (Ger) bt Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 3&2; Nacho Elvira (Esp) bt Oliver Wilson (Eng) 3&1; Craig Lee (Sco) bt Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 3&2; Richard Bland (Eng) Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 2&1; Anthony Wall (Eng) bt Robert Dinwiddie (Eng) 3&2; Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) bt Thomas Bjorn (Den) 4&3; Matt Ford (Eng) bt Pelle Edberg (Swe) 3&2; Chris Wood (Eng) bt Brett Rumford (Aus) 4&3; Daniel Brooks (Eng) bt Gareth Wright (Wal) 4&3; Alex Noren (Swe) bt Scott Jamieson (Sco) 5&4; Renato Paratore (Ita) bt Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 7&6.