Molinari shoots 62 at Castle Stuart


Golf:Luke Donald began his defence of the Scottish Open with a five-under-par 67 at Castle Stuart today but still trailed Italian Francesco Molinari by five shots. Ireland's Shane Lowry shot a six under 66 that included nine birdies and was later matched by Peter Lawrie, who carded seven birdies and an eagle.

Pádraig Harrington was three under after a 69 but Simon Thornton shot a 74 to lie two over, one adrift of Gareth Maybin (73). Paul McGinley was one under after a 71, while Damien McGrane finished one over after a late bogey at the eighth, having started on the back nine.

Carrying on where he left off at the French Open - nine under for his last 17 holes to finish second - Molinari even had a chance of the European Tour’s first-ever 59 after 10 more birdies in his first 15 holes.

He had to settle for three pars, but his 62 not only broke the record for the Inverness links, but also matched the lowest round in the history of the tournament.

The Italian, on course to retain his Ryder Cup place, led by three from Dane Soren Kjeldsen and France's Raphael Jacquelin and by four from Essex’s Robert Coles, Lawrie and Lowry, whose round comprised of nine birdies, a double bogey at the second, a bogey and seven pars.

World number one Donald reached seven under himself with five to play — that after six birdies in seven holes — but he bogeyed the fifth and short eighth. “Usually I’m pretty happy with 67, but I’m five back already,” he said with a smile. “But there were a lot of positives there after three weeks away from competition.”

It was his first tournament since missing the cut in the US Open and he added: “I was disappointed with my control of the ball there. It’s still a touch off, but a lot better.”

Molinari can actually claim a 59. He played his back nine in 29 on Sunday and his first nine holes in 30 on a morning when conditions could hardly have been easier. “It’s not as easy as it looks and I know it won’t go on like this,” he said. “I thought about 59 on the seventh tee (his 16th), but the last three holes are not that easy. Hopefully I will get another chance in the future.”

Ernie Els, playing with Donald, had to settle for a two under 70 after taking four shots to get out of a greenside bunker at the long sixth.

There was even a danger for a while it might turn out worse as a television viewer contacted the European Tour about whether Els had tested the sand during his time in there, but he was not penalised. Paul Casey’s struggles continued with a 76.

The former world number three has made only one cut since dislocating his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve and last week finished joint last after back-to-back rounds of 80.

He went to the turn in 40 after running up a triple bogey eight on his third hole, the 530-yard 12th. His first drive found the gorse on the right and after his next went left into another unplayable lie. Phil Mickelson and leading Scot Paul Lawrie both shot 73s, while Martin Laird was four under after a 68.

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