Marcus Fraser and Matt Wallace both birdied their final holes to take a share of the lead after a challenging opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The two men are having contrasting seasons on the European Tour, with Wallace a three-time winner in 2018 and Fraser battling to keep his playing privileges from 175th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
On a day of high winds and very difficult scoring, the Australian carded a 68 at the Championship Course Carnoustie to get to four under, where he was joined by Wallace who matched his score over the Old Course at St Andrews.
Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, South Korean Jinho Choi, Thai Phachara Khongwatmai and Austrian Matthias Schwab were then at three under, a shot clear of a group including two-time defending champion Tyrrell Hatton and double reigning Major Champion Brooks Koepka.
Fraser has just two top 20s this season but is looking for a fourth victory in his 350th European Tour event and was delighted to rediscover his form at the perfect moment.
“Over the moon,” he said. “I just sort of stuck it out most of the day and waited for the putts to drop and at the end I made a couple of good par saves. A nice long one at the end from about 30 feet.
“It's brutal out there. Doesn't really matter if it's into the wind or downwind and then you get the cross-breeze off eight and nine. That's as strong as I've played the golf course, I think.”
Fraser birdied the 12th, 14th and 16th to hit the front while Khongwatmai turned in 34 with birdies on the tenth and 18th. The 19 year old then holed his second on the par four second at St Andrews and leapfrogged Fraser into the lead.
Players were jostling for the lead and Khongwatmai dropped a shot on the fifth as Wallace made an impressive move. The Englishman had bogeyed the fourth but made three birdies in a row and then holed a monster putt on the ninth to get to three under.
Khongwatmai soon burst out of that group, putting an approach to eight feet and making a birdie on the seventh.
Fraser had bogeyed the fourth but hit back on the seventh and when Khongwatmai made a bogey on the eighth there was a five-way tie before Fraser holed a 30-footer on the ninth for a four under total and the clubhouse lead.
A four-footer from Wallace on the par five 14th briefly put him in a share of top spot but he gave the shot back after a poor tee-shot on the next. He was not done, however, and a birdie on the last put him into a share of the lead.
Harrington - the champion at this event in 2002 and 2006 - turned in level par at Kingsbarns but birdied the third and sixth, holed a long putt on the seventh and saved par on the next after playing a remarkable bunker-shot from a tough stance.
Choi was bogey-free at Kingsbarns, making birdies on the third, eighth and 12th, while Schwab - playing Carnoustie - made birdies on the third, ninth, 12th and 14th with a bogey on the 13th.
McGinley - the Ryder Cup Captain in 2014 - was in the top five after 18 holes for the first time since that season after making five birdies and two bogeys at Kingsbarns including a long putt on the sixth.
Dane Lucas Bjerregaard, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Swedes Peter Hanson and Marcus Kinhult, and Australian Lucas Herbert were alongside Hatton and Koepka at two under, with 24 players under par.
Kinhult and Frank Quattrone held a one-shot lead in the team event at nine under.