After dropping his only shot of the day at the fifth, the American carded an eagle and four birdies – including three in a row from the 13th – to set an early clubhouse target on five under par which none of the later starters could match as the wind increased.
Kisner’s eagle came on the long sixth before he took advantage of the par-three eighth to get to two under.
The 34 year old made another two at the short 13th before firing further birdies at the 14th and 15th to grab the outright lead on five under.
And he managed to keep his nose in front by saving par from 18 feet at the 17th before getting up-and-down from a bunker on the last, signing for a score which included only 22 putts
Kisner’s five under total was one ahead of compatriot Tony Finau and South African pair Zander Lombard and Erik van Rooyen.
“The golf course is great for me. The conditions have been fine. Going forward, you never know what you’re going to have in Scotland”, said Kisner.
“I know the rain is coming in tomorrow. I don’t think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day, but I have to just keep doing what I’m doing.
“If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot. – Kevin Kisner
“I think I only hit four drivers all day, maybe five. I just want the ball on the fairway because it’s not an overly long golf course.
“Maybe five iron was the longest. I hit a hybrid into 12. You’re not going to have that many long clubs into the hole.
“If I can keep it on the fairway, I feel like I can control my golf ball around the green. The greens are calm, and around the greens are flat.
“I feel like any time I’m around the green I’m going to make four or par at the worst. So that’s been my game plan.”
Kisner is sharing accommodation with defending champion Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker – with eight major titles between them – and Rickie Fowler, with only Fowler and Kisner still seeking their first major success.
But while Spieth slipped from three under to one over by dropping four shots in the last four holes, including a trip into the Barry Burn on 18, Kisner had no such problems.
“It’s not intimidating at all,” Kisner, who also shared Spieth’s plane home after his victory at Royal Birkdale last year, said of his housemates.
“They’re all great people. That’s the best part about it.”
Van Rooyen, who is no stranger to links golf having held a commanding four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation earlier in the month, made five birdies before driving into a bunker at the last and dropping his only shot of the day.
Lombard also had five birdies against a single bogey, while big-hitting Finau took advantage of fast conditions to make eight birdies and four bogeys.
Last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open winner Brandon Stone continued his fine form with a 68 to share fifth with Americans Ryan Moore and Brandon Steele.
Former Masters Tournament winner Danny Willett, his fellow Englishman Matthew Southgate, four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and Spain’s World Number Five Jon Rahm were the leading Europeans in a share of eighth place on two under.
European Tour Release
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