CARNOUSTIE: Alex Noren continued his fondness for Scottish links golf in equalling the Carnoustie course record on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday (Oct 6).
|Alex Noren of Sweden joined nine other players in the past 22 years to have recorded an eight-under par 64 at Carnoustie. (AFP/Drew Hallowell)
The 34-year-old Swede joined nine other players in the past 22 years to have recorded an eight-under par 64 at Carnoustie.
It handed Noren a one-stroke lead in the bright but windy conditions, and on one of three host venues this week.
The reigning Scottish Open champion capped his effort in birding four of his closing five holes.
"There was a good few mistakes but it was my lucky day and it just seems that I play well in Scotland, so it's nice to come off the course here with a 64," he said.
In July, Noren captured a fifth European Tour title in sealing victory in the Scottish Open on the Castle Stuart links course to the east of Inverness.
Noren recorded just 24 putts on the course that last played host to the British Open in 2007 when the Swede failed to qualify.
"I've played plenty of rounds in the Dunhill here at Carnoustie but never in The Open, so hopefully when The Open returns here I will qualify," he said.
"The Old Course at St. Andrews is beautiful but then I like all the Scottish links venues we play."
England's Ross Fisher is in second place with a seven under par 65 at Kingsbarns to the east of St. Andrews.
Fisher, 35, was one under par after 11 holes but then played the closing seven in six under par and starting with an eagle three at his 12th hole.
Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thomas Pieters of Belgium were the best of the seven European Ryder Cup players competing this week with rounds of 70 at Carnoustie.
And unlike the pro-USA atmosphere at the Ryder Cup, Pieters was delighted to enjoy "home" support.
"It's great to be back in Europe as everybody is on my side here so that nice," he said.
"I had an interesting start. I'm still very tired mentally but I started off with a drive at the 10th and then shanked my 4-iron but managed to get up-and-down from a hundred yards for a par.
"So it was a weird way to open the championship".
Masters champion Danny Willett was two over after just three holes before signing for a one over par 73 and also at Carnoustie.
"It was good out there as we had nice little following all day," said Willett.