12 July 2019: Edoardo Molinari continued his love affair with Scotland as a brilliant round of 63 left him in a four-way tie for the lead after round one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. SSP Chawrasia made two birdies in his first five holes before closing out at one-under 70. Shubhankar Sharma was two-under through 16 holes but bogeys at eight and nine dropped him back to even par for the day. Gaganjeet Bhullar conceded three bogeys and a triple at the eighth hole as he stumbled to a 77.
Fresh off a top ten finish at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the Italian recorded his lowest Rolex Series round to date at The Renaissance Club to sit at eight under par alongside countryman Nino Bertasio, Romain Wattel of France and American Matt Kuchar.
Molinari won this event and the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2010 as he earned a Captain’s Pick for the Ryder Cup team and he could be playing alongside brother Francesco again at next week’s Open Championship.
The top three players in the top ten this week not already exempt will head to Royal Portrush Golf Club, and Molinari will be looking to take his chance after only narrowly missing out in County Clare last week.
South Africans Thomas Aiken and Erik van Rooyen, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Belgian Thomas Pieters, Finn Kalle Samooja and English pair Lee Slattery and Andy Sullivan – who finished in second place in Ireland last week – are one shot off the lead, with Samooja making the 17th hole-in-one of the European Tour season on the 15thhole before Trevor Immelman took the tally to 18 on the same hole later in the day.
Leading Scot Richie Ramsay is one shot further back at six under par alongside the 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, English trio Ian Poulter, Chris Paisley and Oliver Wilson and Frenchman Romain Langasque. Meanwhile rising Scottish star Robert MacIntyre shot a three under par round of 68 playing in his national open for the first time, in the company of four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and the 2015 tournament winner Rickie Fowler.
Edoardo Molinari: “I’ve been playing really consistent golf in the last two months probably, but I’m starting to putt much better. Last week was quite good and today again was definitely another improvement. So, I’m very happy with my game at the moment, and just go day by day and see what happens.
“I think it’s just consistency in my practice and what I’m doing on and off the golf course. I’m in a good place at the minute. It seems like every week I’m playing better. I’m building something every week, and when you play golf like this, it’s quite easy, but then everything can change in a very short amount of time.
“You just have to be careful and keep doing the same things, and hopefully the results continue to improve.”
Matt Kuchar: “It’s been a great year. I’ve really enjoyed it. Golf is fun when you’re playing well. It’s even fun when you’re not playing well. I’ve had a couple of those and it just kind of drives me to fix things and get better. But right now, when it’s going well, I’m really enjoying it.
“I still feel like I’m a 26-year-old kid. I know there are some mornings where I really know I’m not 26, but I feel like that. I feel like there’s still that excitement for the game, that love for the game.
“When I come to a place like this, I come to the Scottish Open and I can’t wait to play here and I can’t wait for next week. There’s still a love and a passion and excitement for it.”