John Parry shot 8-under-par 64 on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Scottish Open.
Parry, who retained his 2013 European Tour card through qualifying school, is one shot ahead of Simon Khan (65) and two ahead of Phil Mickelson (66) at this final tune-up before the British Open.
"I think from when I lost my card, I maybe panicked a bit coming into the last few events because you know you're struggling," said Parry, who missed seven of his first 10 cuts this season. "Just making sure you do the right things constantly and you'll get the results."
Shane Lowry, Thongchai Jaidee, Mikko Ilonen, Chris Doak, James Morrison and Kiradech Aphibarnrat are tied with the world No. 8 Mickelson after opening- round 66s at Castle Stuart Golf Links.
"There was a good chance to go low, but I'm pleased to get off to a good start because I've got off to poor starts the last two years and been struggling to get into contention," said Mickelson, who missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic last week on the PGA Tour.
Defending champion Jeev Milkha Singh highlights a group of 13 tied for 10th place at 5-under 67.
Khan, a runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship in May, went out early and set the initial mark after eagling the last to finish for a 65, but Parry birdied that same hole to end the opening round with a 1-shot lead.
Parry opened with back-to-back birdies from the first and added further gains at Nos. 5, 6 and 9 during an outward 31.
Around the turn, the 26-year-old held steady with four straight pars before moving to 6-under with a birdie at the 14th. Another birdie at the 16th preceded Parry's decisive gain at the par-5 18th.
"I think my wedge play and iron play were key," said the 2010 Vivendi Cup winner. "That's what I knew coming into this event to work on, because off the tee, it's quite generous, so you can work on your short irons and wedges and you can take lots of chances."
Mickelson began his round with a bogey at No. 10 and followed with an errant tee shot at the next. He saved par from the bunker there and rolled home a 15- footer for eagle at the 12th to kickstart his round.
The left-hander birdied the 14th, then wrapped a pair of birdies around a bogey at the 17th to close his outward 33. He added three birdies during a bogey-free inward nine to close with a 66.
"We had perfect conditions the first 14 or 15 holes and there are opportunities on this course to make birdies and eagles," said Mickelson. "It's an above-average round, but there were opportunities to pick up three or four shots that I let go, so I have to get a little sharper."
NOTES: Parry tied for 10th at the BMW International Open in June and placed 14th at the Madeira Islands Open in May ... Reigning British Open champion Ernie Els shot even-par par 72 ... Singh tied for 69th at the British Open after winning here last year.