St.Andrews - Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson boosted his chances of regaining his European Tour card by carding an 8-under 64 Thursday to sit in a five-way tie for the lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Wilson made the most of his sponsor's invitation by making one eagle and six birdies in bright but windy conditions on Kingsbarns. Fellow Englishmen Tom Lewis and Richard McEvoy also shot a 64, along with Chile's Mark Tullo and Frenchman Alexandre Kaleka.
The players alternate between Kingsbarns, St. Andrews and Carnoustie over the first three rounds.
Wilson competed in the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla but lost his tour card at the end of the 2011 season and has been playing on the secondary Challenge Tour since.
"For the first time in probably over a year actually, I have some control over my shots and I'm able to hit the shots and trust it under pressure," Wilson said. "We've played some good courses the last few weeks on the Challenge Tour and I've played well, and that's built my confidence and I have a chance now to earn back my card in a few various ways."
Kaleka had a stretch of four straight birdies on St. Andrews as he looks to secure a first tour victory and continue the recent streak of success for French golfers.
"It's been a great month for French golf with Gregory Bourdy winning the Wales Open and Julien Quesne winning last week's Italian Open," the 26-year-old Kaleka said. "But today was very special for me as I have played the Old Course many times before as an amateur in the St. Andrews Links Trophy but this 64 is my lowest round."
Another five players are tied for sixth, one shot behind, including recent Johnnie Walker Championship winner Tommy Fleetwood.
Former Dunhill champion Nick Dougherty of England was in last place after needing 12 strokes on the par-4 18th hole at Carnoustie, which the 2007 winner was playing as his ninth.
Dougherty was already 3 over par and proceeded to put two balls out of bounds on the 18th and signing for an eventual round of 86 that left him 7 shots behind the nearest golfer.
Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand was forced to withdraw from his third straight event after badly twisting his ankle on the sixth at Kingsbarns. A bout of food poisoning had forced Campbell out of the European Masters, and he then withdrew a week later after one round of the KLM Open.
Selected first round scores in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
at the Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, Scotland (GBR
and IRL unless stated, par 72):
64 - Oliver Wilson, Tom Lewis
65 - Matthew Baldwin, Mark Foster
66 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Chris Wood, Garth Mulroy (RSA), Brandon Stone (RSA), Eddie Pepperell, Simon Dyson
67 - Tjaart Van Der Walt (RSA), Keith Horne (RSA), Eduardo De La Riva (ESP), Graeme Storm
- Hennie Otto (RSA), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Ross Fisher, Greg Chalmers
(AUS), Anthony Wall, Shane Lowry, Matthew Millar (AUS), Matteo Delpodio
(ITA), Justin Walters (RSA)
69 - Robert Jan Derksen (NED), Richie
Ramsay, Maximilian Kieffer (GER), Kristoffer Broberg (SWE), Danny
Willett, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (IND), Brooks Koepka (USA), Gary
Lockerbie, Robert Rock, Alejandro Canizares (ESP), Ken Duke (USA),
Ignacio Garrido (ESP), Simon Thornton
70 - Neil Raymond, Jake Roos (RSA), Rhys Davies, Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
71 - John Parry, Lorenzo Gagli (ITA), Scott Jamieson
72 - Steve Webster, Haydn Porteous (RSA), Gareth Maybin, Max Orrin, David Higgins
At St Andrews
64 - Mark Tullo (CHI), Richard McEvoy, Alexandre Kaleka (FRA)
65 - George Murray, Tommy Fleetwood
66 - Justin Thomas (USA), Alessandro Tadini (ITA), David Horsey, Morten Orum Madsen (DEN)
67 - Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG), Jason Norris (AUS), Alexander Noren (SWE)
68 - Felipe Aguilar (CHI), Richard Finch, Jorge Campillo (ESP), Simon Wakefield, Thomas Levet (FRA)
- Joachim B Hansen (DEN), David Drysdale, Magnus A Carlsson (SWE),
Soren Hansen (DEN), Jaco Van Zyl (RSA), Simon Khan, James Morrison
- Romain Wattel (FRA), Peter Whiteford, Marc Warren, Gregory Bourdy
(FRA), Steven Jones (AUS), Trevor Fisher Jnr (RSA), Pablo Larrazabal
71 - Craig Lee, Anders Hansen (DEN), Paul Waring, Maarten
Lafeber (NED), Johan Edfors (SWE), Alvaro Quiros (ESP), Niclas Fasth
(SWE), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), Jesper Parnevik (SWE)
65 - Jamie Donaldson
67 - Joost Luiten (NED), David Howell, Darren Fichardt (RSA)
68 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Michael Hoey
- Bjorn Akesson (SWE), Ernie Els (RSA), Martin Kaymer (GER), Darren
Clarke, Gregory Havret (FRA), Julien Quesne (FRA), Seve Benson
70 - Retief Goosen (RSA), Matthew Nixon, Branden Grace (RSA), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Paul McGinley, Christopher Doak
71 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Thomas Aiken (RSA), Peter Uihlein (USA)
- Richard Bland, Martin Wiegele (AUT), James Kingston (RSA), Doug
McGuigan, Andrew Dodt (AUS), Chris Paisley, Oliver Fisher, Rich Beem
(USA), Andreas Harto (DEN), Fredrik Andersson Hed (SWE), Richard Sterne