Inverness, Scotland – Francesco Molinari matched his lowest round on the European Tour Thursday with a flawless 10-under 62, which was easily good enough for the first-round lead of the Scottish Open.
Molinari's 62 also represented a new course record at Castle Stuart Golf Links. If you take his back nine Sunday from the Open de France, and couple it with his front side on Thursday, Molinari posted a 59.
This run bodes well for Molinari with the British Open Championship next week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
"I know it's not going to last forever," he added, "but I hope to keep this going a little bit longer - obviously next week, but the next month or so is really big for The Ryder Cup.
"That, probably more than The Open, is in my mind."
Spain's Alejandro Canizares finished with a flurry on Thursday. He closed his round with six consecutive birdies for an 8-under 64 and second place on his own.
Soren Kjeldsen and Raphael Jacquelin both carded rounds of 7-under 65 in round one and share third.
World No. 1 and defending champion Luke Donald had an impressive 5-under 67 and is part of a group tied for 12th place.
Phil Mickelson's woes continued on Thursday. In Europe for preparations for next week's major championship, Mickelson shot a 1-over 73 and is tied for 123rd place.
Everyone is chasing Molinari, who finished second to Marcel Siem last week in France.
The Italian started on the 10th tee Thursday and birdied the par-3 11th. Molinari parred 12 and 13, then rattled off five straight birdies to complete his opening nine.
After his front-side 30, Molinari parred Nos. 1 and 2. He once again went on a great run, this time with four consecutive birdies from the third. Molinari was 10-under par with three holes left and golf's magic number was on his mind.
"I thought about it. I was 10-under with three to go," said Molinari of his 59 chances. "The seventh, eighth and ninth aren't that easy. There was a chance to do it, but it's really, really tough to do."
Molinari parred those holes and had to settle for a 62.
"It was quite easy today," said Molinari. "I was feeling comfortable on the golf course. It's a great beginning, but I need to keep my head down and keep doing the same thing."
Molinari was thinking about his older brother Edoardo on Thursday. Edoardo won this championship at Loch Lomond two years ago, but is on the shelf after left wrist surgery two weeks ago.
"It would be nice to do well this week for him as well - to cheer him up a little bit," said baby brother.
Shane Lowry, Robert Coles, Peter Lawrie, Fredrik Jacobson, Alexander Noren, Andrew Marshall and Jeev Milkha Singh are knotted in fifth place at 6-under 66.
NOTES: If Molinari goes on to win Sunday, it would be the second time in European Tour history that brothers won the same event...German and Antonio Garrido won the Open de Madrid in 1973 and 1977, respectively...Martin Kaymer also had a 5-under 67 on Thursday...Louis Oosthuizen, Padraig Harrington and Aaron Baddeley headline a group at 3-under 69...Ernie Els shot a 2-under 70.