European Tour

Hend, Aguilar lead Scottish Open

2016-07-07 17:37
Scott Hend (AFP Photo)

Inverness - Australia's Scott Hend and Chilean Felipe Aguilar shared the clubhouse lead on the first day of the Scottish Open and then reaffirmed their commitments to next month's Olympic Games.

Hend and Aguilar recorded three-under-par 69s in bright but very windy conditions on the Castle Stuart course to the east of Inverness in northern Scotland.

Their efforts come after Zimbabwean Brandon de Jonge and Colombia's Camilo Villegas brought the number of male golfers to withdraw from the Rio Olympics to 15.

The 43-year-old Hend, who has won twice this year, capped his round by eagling his 11th hole while Aguilar, two years younger than the Australian, had moved to four under par after 16 holes before dropping a shot at the last.

Hend found his way into the Australian men's Olympic golf team after the withdrawals of both Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, and was then confirmed as the top-ranked Australian for Rio with the withdrawal last week of world number one Jason Day.

"I was getting ready for the French Open last week when Jason announced he was pulling out and it was the same day I also found out I am into next week's Open and also was informed I will be competing in the PGA Championship," he said.

"So to find out on the one day I was confirmed in the Olympics and the final two majors of the season was a great hat-trick for me.

"But as far as playing in the Olympic Games, it's going to be awesome. Knowing that I will be pulling on the Australian colours is going to be a phenomenal experience and I just can't wait for it to happen."

Aguilar has won twice on the European Tourand will be the sole golf representative for Chile at the Olympics.

Aguilar, who is a distant relative to one of those rescued in the 2010 Chilean mine collapse, is also ready to embrace Rio.

"Look, I'm more scared of my wife than any mosquito," Aguilar said laughing.

"I think those players who have withdrawn are over-exaggerating the problem and their decision had more to do with just travelling to Brazil than any concern being bitten by mosquitoes.

"When the World Cup was in Brazil two years ago you didn't hear of any concerns did you?

"So I think those who are not going are only trying to protect themselves which is fair enough.

"I took my wife and family to the London Olympics in 2012 and we just loved it as it was a great opportunity to feel the Olympic spirit.

"Now to be representing my country in the very next Olympics is something I would have never have dreamed of when my grandfather introduced me to golf.

"But then I feel sorry, not for the Olympic Games, but for golf in general and those also who worked so hard to get golf into the Olympics."

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, and one of those who pulled the plug on competing in Brazil, is among seven players to have signed for a two-under-par 70 in Scotland.

McDowell spent last weekend practicing at Royal Troon after missing the cut in the French Open.

"I made my majors debut at Troon in 2004 so it was nice to go back there but I could not remember much about 12 years ago," he said.

"But while it would have been nicer playing all four days of the French, I got a good workout at Troon."

Read more on:    european tour  |  scottish open  |  golf

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