Their rounds may have been seven shots off the blistering pace set by Branden Grace at Kingsbarns, but Grégory Havret and Oliver Wilson will be very satisfied with their day’s work at Carnoustie in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The pair posted five under par 67s, the lowest of the day at the much-feared Angus links, which even in calm conditions is a daunting test.
Sponsor’s invite Wilson in particular took a lot of confidence from such an encouraging start, having struggled with his game for much of the season after losing his European Tour card last year.
“I played very solidly and had no bogeys, which is always nice,” said the Englishman. “I holed a 20-footer on the last for par. My confidence just kept going up as I went along.
“All year, the good has been good and the bad has been really bad, which doesn't work. I've changed coaches and gone back to Mike Walker, who I worked with when I was playing my best. I’m much happier.
“It's just kind of going back to doing what I did before and looking at why I did so well, and just learning what those important parts of the swing are that are imperative for me to play well. It really comes down to the take-away. If I can get the take-away in the correct position, I play well, and I probably haven't put as much focus on that over the last year to 18 months as I needed to.
“I’ve probably got two more events this season after this one, so I really want to get a top ten to get into the Portugal Masters next week. I’m 137th in The Race to Dubai so I need to play well between now and the end of the year.”
Havret had six birdies and one bogey in his round as he looks to record his second top ten finish of the season to rise from his current position of 88th in The Race to Dubai.
“Anything under par at Carnoustie is always a good thing,” said the Frenchman. “Five under here is a very good thing, a very good sign. I bogeyed the 17th, which is probably the hardest hole on the course, and overall I am very happy.
“Whatever the conditions are, the course always plays really tough with some nasty traps. Whichever way the wind blows, it feels like you’re playing against it here. We had some very hard shots to play and some tough out of bounds to deal with.”
The duo eclipsed some star names at Carnoustie, with Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer opening with a two under par 70 and his team-mates from Medinah Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie signing for 72 and 75 respectively.
Defending champion Michael Hoey was also in action there, recording a one under par 71 ahead of Friday’s visit to Kingsbarns.