Four days after missing out on the Alstom Open de France with a closing 75 Denmark's Anders Hansen was in fine form in Inverness.
The 41 year old birdied the first four holes on Castle Stuart Golf Links' inward half and instantly opened up a three stroke lead at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Hansen was joint leader with a round to go at Le Golf National on Sunday, but did not finish in the top ten and so is still seeking his first European Tour success since the 2009 Joburg Open.
Most of the early crowd were following World Number One Luke Donald - also this week's defending champion - Ernie Els and Scot Richie Ramsay.
Els, his confidence boosted by being in contention at last month's US Open, was playing his first tournament since then and admitted to having some rust in his system - yet he was the first of the trio to grab a birdie.
That came on the 168 yard 11th, while his two playing partners began with two pars.
Hansen went to five under at the 337 yard 16th, his seventh, but behind him Els ran up a six on the 530 yard 12th.
Donald and Padraig Harrington birdied the 12th to be one under, while Hansen's lead was trimmed to two when Italian Francesco Molinari - runner-up in Paris following a dazzling last day 64 - birdied the 11th, 14th and 15th.
Hansen did well to save par on the long 18th. He failed to make the carry over the sandy waste area with his second shot, came up short of the green with his next, but got down in two more.
He turned in a five under 31, but was joined when Molinari made it four birdies in a row.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee was only one behind following four birdies in his first five.
Donald and Harrington both improved to two under, but Els was only level par after seven holes that contained three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey at the 423 yard 15th.