World number one Luke Donald started his Scottish Open defence strongly at Castle Stuart in Inverness on Thursday with a five-under-par 67 as Italian Francesco Molinari's blistering course record set the pace.
A free-flowing Molinari hit a 10-under 62 to lead Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen (65) on seven-under, with Ireland's Shane Lowry and England's Robert Coles a stroke back.
Donald, in his 52nd week as the world's top-ranked golfer, was seven-under through 13 but bogeyed two of his final five holes.
“Usually I'm pretty happy with 67, but I'm five back already,” Donald told the European Tour website (www.europeantour.com).
“But there were a lot of positives there after three weeks away from competition.”
Donald, chasing a first major title, is playing for the first time since last month's U.S. Open where he missed the cut.
Donald's playing partner and three-times major champion Ernie Els opened with a 70 while four-times major-winning American Phil Mickelson was among the later starters. – Reuters