In a week dominated by Rory McIlroy’s ill-advised off-course activities, it was somehow fitting that Thorbjorn Olesen claimed the lead after the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
McIlroy’s worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday when he was forced to pull out of his Open Championship defence due to an ankle ligament injury suffered while playing football.
Although that was described as an “unforced error” by former USA Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, Olesen could certainly sympathise with the world No 1 after injuring himself getting off a camel in Dubai last year.
“I was with a few mates and went on a camel and when I had to jump down I just pulled a muscle in my groin,” Olesen said after a flawless opening 63 at Gullane.
“It took a few weeks before I could properly walk again. But that’s what happens. You’ve got to have a little bit of fun.”
At seven under par Olesen leads by two shots from a six-strong group including Hull’s Richard Finch, who was six under after birdies at holes three, five, seven, 10, 13 and 16, but dropped a shot at the last.
Dending champion Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar are all four under while Sheffield’s Matthew Fitzpatrick carded a three-under-par 67.
Like Finch, he was out in 32 with three birdies and notched a fourth at 11 only to give the shot straight back at the 12th.
Even three-putt bogeys on the last two holes could not dampen McDowell’s enthusiasm for a welcome return to form in the week he slipped out of the world’s top 50 for the first time in five years.
McDowell’s sole top-10 finish on the European Tour this season came in February and he missed the cut when bidding for a third successive French Open title last week, a second round of 78 being his worst score in 32 rounds at Le Golf National. The 35-year-old revealed he and coach Pete Cowen had been examining videos of his swing from 2010, the year he won the US Open at Pebble Beach and holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
“I’m trying to get back to basics and we have narrowed my stance and used my body to swing the club how I used to,” McDowell said.
Harrogate’s John Parry is on one-over 71. He reached the turn in one under but had a birdie and three bogeys coming back.