Richie Ramsay (pictured by Getty Images) built on a blistering start to the Omega European Masters to set the clubhouse target on eight under par, but was caught late in the day by Edoardo Molinari at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
Ramsay, twice a winner on The European Tour including in this tournament two years ago, flew out of the blocks with an eagle on the first and birdies on his next two holes.
The Scot then made further gains on the seventh, 12th, 13th and 15th holes in a bogey-free round of 62.
But Italian Molinari, another man with two European Tour titles to his name, also fired a flawless round, picking up eight gains to match Ramsay’s score.
The duo are two shots ahead of Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and the English pair of Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme Storm, who all shot 64s in the first half of the day.
Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, seeking consecutive European Tour triumphs, went round in 65 to sit in a group on five under par alongside his 2014 Ryder Cup team-mate Victor Dubuisson of France.
Another player who will also feature at Gleneagles, Thomas Björn of Denmark, began the defence of his title with a round of 66.
“I hit the ball very well from the tee, which wasn’t the case last week. And I’ve been hitting my irons very well lately, so I know that when I find the fairways, I’m probably going to give myself a good chance to get close to the pin.
“I knew exactly the areas I needed to work on, because I played well for two days last week, but played poorly for the other two. So I knew what needed to be done, and today it worked out perfectly for me.”
“Four under through three holes was a nice way to start. I hit a great six iron into the first and then two more good iron shots into the next two, so I was flying at that point. It gave me a great boost and I managed to pick off a few more birdies after that.
“It’s a proper golf course, you really need to think a lot and plot your way around, especially off the tee. Good shots get rewarded and poor shots get punished, which is exactly the way it should be. It’s a tricky course but if you get on a run, there’s definitely a low score to be had out there. I played really well two years ago, and I was able to draw on those good memories on my way round today.”
“I didn’t play well early on, but then I hit a couple of really good shots which brought two birdies and settled me down. So it wasn’t the best of the best today, but it was good enough to get me off to a pretty decent start. It’s always important to put the past behind you and stay in the present, so even though I obviously have some very happy memories of this place, I managed to block most of them out and get back down to business.”
Scores after round 1:
62 R Ramsay (Sco) , E Molinari (Ita) ,
64 T Fleetwood (Eng) , G Maybin (Nir) , G Storm (Eng) ,
65 J Donaldson (Wal) , B Koepka (USA) , D Lynn (Eng) , V Dubuisson (Fra) , R Jacquelin (Fra) , S Benson (Eng) , M Hoey (Nir) ,
66 P Meesawat (Tha) , R Derksen (Ned) , J Morrison (Eng) , P Harrington (Irl) , F Aguilar (Chi) , C Nirat (Tha) , P Hanson (Swe) , D Drysdale (Sco) , C Lee (Sco) , E Grillo (Arg) , J McLeary (Sco) , M Nixon (Eng) , S Lowry (Irl) , T Björn (Den) , B Wiesberger (Aut) ,
67 W Ormsby (Aus) , A Hansen (Den) , M Lundberg (Swe) , D Lipsky (USA) , T Hatton (Eng) , A Sullivan (Eng) , R Santos (Por) , D Willett (Eng) ,
68 D Brooks (Eng) , H Otto (RSA) , L Slattery (Eng) , M Manassero (Ita) , R Karlberg (Swe) , M Kawamura (Jpn) , M Rominger (Sui) , G Havret (Fra) , A Pavan (Ita) , M Baldwin (Eng) , P Whiteford (Sco) , J Campillo (Esp) , A Otaegui (Esp) , D Ulrich (Sui) , M Both (Aus) , N Colsaerts (Bel) , R Wattel (Fra) , F Campigli (am) (Ita) ,
69 P Lawrie (Irl) , S Hansen (Den) , A Quiros (Esp) , M Lampert (Ger) , A Saddier (Fra) , T Aiken (RSA) , B Seuk-Hyun (Kor) , R Rock (Eng) , K Pratt (Aus) , C Pigem (Esp) , M Warren (Sco) , C Doak (Sco) , T Olesen (Den) , M Crespi (Ita) , B Rumford (Aus) , M Perera (Sri) , J Quesne (Fra) , D Howell (Eng) , M Foster (Eng) ,
70 S Jamieson (Sco) , R Bland (Eng) , R Fisher (Eng) , M Madsen (Den) , J Walters (RSA) , T Pieters (Bel) , A Lahiri (Ind) , K Broberg (Swe) , J Carlsson (Swe) , S Webster (Eng) , C Wood (Eng) , R Karlsson (Swe) , J Knutzon (USA) , S Kjeldsen (Den) , M Jiménez (Esp) , A Wall (Eng) , N Elvira (Esp) , F Calmels (Fra) , R Gonzalez (Arg) , B Dredge (Wal) , J Olazábal (Esp) , P Lawrie (Sco) ,
71 K Gi-Whan (Kor) , J Jeong (Kor) , T Levet (Fra) , D Singh (Ind) , M Kieffer (Ger) , V Riu (Fra) , R Green (Aus) , J Parry (Eng) , N Fasth (Swe) , P Waring (Eng) , M Carlsson (Swe) , G Stal (Fra) , A Levy (Fra) , P Larrazábal (Esp) , R Kakko (Fin) , J Lima (Por) ,
72 J Singh (Ind) , A Hartø (Den) , S Kim (Kor) , J Hansen (Den) , J Kruger (RSA) , P Uihlein (USA) , R De Sousa (Sui) , R Khan (Ind) , J Randhawa (Ind) , R Gangjee (Ind) , D Huizing (Ned) , J Girrbach (am) (Sui) ,
73 M Grönberg (Swe) , G Bhullar (Ind) , A Que (Phi) , S Strüver (Ger) , G Bourdy (Fra) , B Henson (USA) , E De La Riva (Esp) , A Da Silva (Bra) , S Manley (Wal) , J Granberg (Fin) , M Ilonen (Fin) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , P Junhasavasdikul (Tha) , D Fichardt (RSA) , S Thornton (Irl) ,
74 F Zanotti (Par) , M Siem (Ger) , M Mamat (Sin) , A Vongvanij (Tha) , D Clarke (Nir) , S Kapur (Ind) , G Coetzee (RSA) ,
75 S Rahman (Ban) , C Del Moral (Esp) , S Chowrasia (Ind) ,
76 D Foos (Ger) , T Wiratchant (Tha) , F Zucchetti (am) (Ita) ,
78 R Lee (Can) , J Lucquin (Fra) , R Lacerda Soares (am) (Bra) ,
79 M Quiros (Esp) , F Svanberg (Sui) ,
88 E Amacher (am) (Sui)