GLENEAGLES, United Kingdom (AFP) – Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez secured a share of the lead after the opening round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Thursday.
The pair carded seven under par rounds of 65 over the Centenary Course, which will stage next year's Ryder Cup, to lead by one from in-form Australian Brett Rumford, Spain's Ignacio Garrido, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and English trio Oliver Fisher, Ross Fisher and Mark Foster.
Wiesberger, twice a winner on the European Tour last season, came into the event in good form having made 17 consecutive cuts this season and continued to shine with three straight birdies to finish.
"I didn't make a lot of mistakes. I had troubles the last couple weeks driving the ball, and coming off major championships where you have to be very precise off the tee, I felt I had a bit more margin of error here," he said.
"I came here with the feeling that I like the golf course, I like the weather, playing in these colder conditions.
"I think it suits me. I'm very relaxed because I had last week off, so I'm quite fresh into this tournament and that helped me."
Gonzalez has four European Tour titles to his name but the last of those came back in 2009, and the 43-year-old has not had a top ten finish this season.
The highlight of his round came with a ten foot eagle at the long second.
"I played very good from the tee, made some good putts, and that's why it's a good score, " he said.
"I like the course. I think the weather opened my eyes and made me take more concentration on my putter and my driver."
Oliver Fisher would have made it a three-way tie for the lead but for a bogey at his final hole.
Even so, it was still a fine return to form for a player who has not posted a top 10 finish on the European Tour since claiming his maiden title in the Czech Republic two years ago.
European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley carded a four-under-par 68.
But the 46-year-old had already said the "chances were slim" of him making a fourth Ryder Cup team as a player when he was appointed captain in January and he was more emphatic after a round containing five birdies and just one bogey.
"To be honest I think I won't even have myself on the points list," said McGinley, who holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002 and also played in the record victories in 2004 and 2006.