Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay is dreaming of being in contention going down the stretch on Sunday in the Dunhill Links.
The 36-year-old went into this week’s tournament in form after finishing tied sixth in the BMW PGA Championship and kept the momentum going with a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 at Kingsbarns.
Ramsay has a good track record in the event, having finished runner-up to Oliver Wilson in 2014 and would love to go one better this weekend.
He said: “I am just feeding off last week at Wentworth.
“The big thing was just keeping my energy up as it is my seventh week in a row.
“My confidence was high and I went out there and played really steady.
“You always think, if I was to win one tournament then the Scottish Open and the Dunhill are the two that are right there because I used come down here when I was seven or eight and watch the guys play in the Dunhill Cup.
“It’s cool for me to play in it and I’m just proud that I shot a good number.”
Ramsay is two shots behind leader Justin Walters, who carded a nine-under 63 at St Andrews, the course Ramsay plays tomorrow before taking on the more challenging Carnoustie on Saturday.
The Aberdonian added: “I just have to try to keep the foot down because there are so many good players this week.
“I’ve just got to keep chasing more birdies at St Andrews because I want to get in the mix on Sunday.
“That’s my main goal.
“It would be a dream to be on the back nine at St Andrews with a chance to win.”
Russell Knox also made a storming start on his Dunhill Links debut.
The Inverness golfer didn’t dare tell his caddie he was playing with a completely new set of irons but the change paid dividends as he opened with a round of six-under 66 at the Old Course.
Knox used a new set of Srixon 785 irons on his way to equalling his lowest competitive round in Scotland, although his caddie David Clark was none the wiser.
He said: “Am I going to tell you this? Don’t tell my caddie but I switched shafts this week and I didn’t let him know. It was a big secret because I didn’t want him to freak out.
“I went from an X100 to an S300 which is a little softer. He doesn’t know so don’t tell him. Hopefully he doesn’t read the papers.
“He won’t care if I shoot 66, I promise you that.”
Knox was top of the leaderboard after playing the opening 15 holes in seven under before dropping his first shot of the day at the par-4 16th.
An errant approach on the Road Hole, the course’s famous 17th, ended up on the path adjacent to the green and, despite a valiant effort to get up and down, Knox was unable to rescue par but he rolled home a birdie at the last to undo some of the damage.
Knox, three shots adrift of leader Justin Walters, said: “I don’t know the last time I played a shot off a road but that was a good one. It was a brand-new 60 degree wedge that is now all scuffed.
“This was an important round.
“I’ve been desperate to get some momentum going. I need to do a little better. I know St Andrews is always scoreable in this format. The conditions were decent and the pins were relatively easy.
“I needed to go out and play a good round for my confidence.
“I definitely saw enough to be confident so I am happy.”
Kinross’ Calum Hill is also on six under par after a fine 66 at Kingsbarns.
David Law, playing in the same group as fellow Aberdonian Ramsay, is tied 28th after a four-under 68 at Kingsbarns.
Kilmarnock Barassie member Euan Walker, playing in only his second European Tour event, impressed with a four-under 68 at St Andrews.
Scott Jamieson and Liam Johnston are tied 53rd on three under with Stephen Gallacher one shot further back after a 70 at the Old Course. Robert MacIntyre had two eagles in his opening round of one-under 71 at Carnoustie, while Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest is level par.
Only one of the 11 Scots in the field finished over par with David Drysdale shooting a 75 at St Andrews.