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  • Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Round One

Brief hopes of first 59 die in Scotland

ESPN staff
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Andrew Strauss enjoyed a solid day at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship © Getty Images
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Branden Grace and Victor Dubuisson both briefly raised hopes of seeing the first round of 59 in European Tour history at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Friday, before ultimately falling just short.

In truth Grace, a three-time winner already this season, was always the least likely to break the mythical 60 barrier - but four successive birdies on his back nine left him on the ninth tee at Kingsbarns knowing an eagle at the par-five would see him home in 59.

A birdie was all the South African could manage, however, as a 12-under par round of 60 nevertheless left him top of the leaderboard in the event - which is played across three courses on the opening three days - after the opening round.

"Obviously it's not the easiest course I've ever seen, the conditions and things like that, but the course is definitely shorter than all the rest," Grace said. "I just gave myself a lot of chances and made everything I looked at; not that I had any major long putts or anything like that, but I just had a lot of 15 footers to tap ins the whole day and could have been one better or two better which would really be nice."

Frenchman Dubuisson, on the other hand, looked to be well positioned as he reached the seventh tee at St Andrews 11-under on the day. Just two birdies at his final three holes - he began his day at the tenth - would have seen him home in 59, but a bogey at the seventh immediately scuppered his chances, as two closing pars also meant he finished the day two shots adrift of Grace.

St Andrews certainly seemed the course to be at if you wanted to build a score on Thursday, with Dane Thorbjorn Olesen a shot adrift of Dubuisson and Alex Noren, Fredrik Andersson Hed and Ashley Hall all at eight-under after rounds of 64.

Most of the top-ranked players in the field began their tournament at the third course involved this week, Carnoustie, leading to some low-scoring starts at what is considered one of the toughest courses in Scotland.

Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen sneaked in at one-under par for the day, with Ryder Cup players Dustin Johnson and Peter Hanson both one shot better off.

The hero at Medinah, Martin Kaymer, started with a two-under par round - while the exertions of the week evidently were still wearing on Paul Lawrie as the Scot could only limp around the course where he famously won the Open Championship in 1999 in 74.

The current Open champion, Ernie Els, is one-over par going into the second day.

In the pro-am event, which runs alongside the individual professional leaderboard this week, Grace and Dubuisson's stellar days understandably elevated them to the top of the table - with former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss - alongside partner Oliver Fisher - also well placed after the opening round.

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