(Reuters) – Australian Scott Hend and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar shot three-under-par 69s to lead the way in the Scottish Open after a windy first round at Castle Stuart on Thursday.
The pair finished one stroke ahead of a group of players including three former major champions, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Irishman Padraig Harrington and South Korean Yang Yong-eun.
Hend, who has a place in the field for next week’s British Open at Royal Troon, relished the challenge of the elements in a round that featured an eagle and three birdies.
“Conditions were quite tough and it was a little bit scrappy with some putts not quite getting to the hole but overall I’m very happy,” he told the European Tour website.
“It’s awesome fun. Doesn’t matter how hard it is. When you play links golf, it’s just awesome. It’s great.”
Britain’s former world number one Luke Donald, who found out on Wednesday that he had secured a spot at Troon, shot a solid 71 to lie two shots behind the leaders.
Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson of the United States, a regular visitor to the Scottish Open, struggled to a 76.
(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Tony Jimenez)