Queenslander Andrew Dodt muscled his way to a share of second place on day one of the Scottish Open, but then confessed a predicament.
Dodt, 31, birdied four of his closing five holes to be among six players at 67, trailing just two shots behind Finland’s Mikko Ilonen who established a new Dundonald Links course record with his seven-under 65.
Sharing second with the strapping Dodt is American Rickie Fowler, back after his win in this event in 2015 at Gullane, his European Tour-based compatriot, Paul Peterson, English duo Ian Poulter and Callum Shinkwin, and Irishman Padraig Harrington, the most recent Open Championship winner at next week’s major championship venue, Royal Birkdale.
Dodt, a two-time European Tour winner, immediately boosted hopes of contesting a first major championship in his now decade-long pro career.
If he can win the $US 7m event or be among the leading three not otherwise already exempt, then he will secure a place into next week’s Open Championship.
But therein lies Dodt’s predicament.
“My wife, Ashley, and myself are booked next week to travel to New York on a holiday,” he said with a smile.
“She arrives from Australia here into Glasgow tomorrow and then we are supposed to then be going next week to New York for five days.
“Or, if all goes well this week it could mean instead heading south to Birkdale, but hopefully we will be heading to Birkdale as we can postpone flying to New York.
“I have tried to qualify for The Open and the US Open but at this stage I have not managed to get through.
“We saw what Wade (Ormsby) managed to achieve in qualifying for Erin Hills (for) his first major, so maybe now I can follow in his footsteps.
“Qualifying for The Open has been my primary focus for about a month now and it’s a case of one round down and three to go and maybe I will be heading to Royal Birkdale and then heading to the Big Apple.”
Dodt’s round was a mix of seven birdies and just two bogeys contested in overcast conditions but with rain falling during his last handful of holes.
“Early on it was quite nice to play being nice and warm and not too much wind,” he said.
“But as the round went on, it started to get a little bit colder and wind picked up a little bit. Got a bit tricky toward the end, but a solid day’s work.
“So, to birdie four birdies in five holes was good. I grazed the edge a couple of times and then just got on a bit of a run there through the middle to sort of set up the round and it was pretty solid from there on in.
“I played well last week in Northern Ireland and 20th was probably the worst I could have finished.
“The thing is also I grew up playing golf in Australia in windy conditions as well, so I feel pretty comfortable on links courses and that definitely helped today.
“In saying that, this is the first time I have been to this area of Scotland as I have played a lot on the east coast up around St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie along with Castle Stuart up north near Inverness, but not here before on the west coast.”
Fellow Queenslander Adam Scott, contesting the Scottish Open for the first time in nine years, signed for a three-under par 69 and a share of 14th.
Adelaide’s Ormsby fired a 71 to be the only other Aussie in red figures, with Marcus Fraser, Brett Rumford, Jason Scrivener and Sam Brazel square with the card,
Scott Hend suffered an early triple-bogey and fought hard for his 75 and will need to go low tomorrow to have a four-round warm-up for next week’s Open.