Harrington and McGinley just off the pace at Dunhill Links
Irish duo one shot off the lead as Fraser and Wallace tame tough conditions
Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington plays his second shot to the ninth during day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns. Photograpgh: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
On a day when strong winds made scoring difficult and only 24 players in the 168-strong field broke par, Fraser carded a four-under 68 at Carnoustie, traditionally the hardest of the three courses used for the pro-am event on the European Tour.
Wallace, who missed out on a Ryder Cup wild card despite three wins this season, including the final qualifying event in front of Europe captain Thomas Bjorn, compiled his 68 on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and fellow Irishman Pádraig Harrington, who is favourite to follow in Bjorn’s footsteps in 2020, both shot 69 at Kingsbarns to lie a shot off the lead alongside Phachara Khongwatmai, Jinho Choi and Matthias Schwab.
Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, who is seeking a third straight win in the event, is a shot further back on two under alongside reigning US Open and US PGA champion Brooks Koepka.
Hatton’s Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood recovered from a poor start to play his last eight holes at Kingsbarns in four under par to record an opening 71. Tony Finau, who beat Fleetwood in the singles in the Ryder Cup on Sunday, carded a 73 at the same venue.
Fraser, who carded five birdies and one bogey at this year’s British Open venue of Carnoustie, told Sky Sports: “It’s brutal out there. It’s probably the toughest wind I’ve played this course in today. It was nice to play pretty steady and hole a few putts.
“Downwind was just as hard as into the wind, it was really tricky to control it and try to get the right distances. We were out by probably 20-30 yards some times but it just can’t be helped. You get a firm bounce and it just takes off.
“And the cross breezes as well down those last two holes, the ball just drops out of the air and doesn’t fly. It’s hard to gauge but I felt like I did a really good job of it today.”
Harrington on his first Major title at Carnoustie but he was happy to get his tournament underway at Kingsbarns.
Level-par for his front nine after starting from the 10th hole, Harrington picked up three birdies on the way home.
“I hit my irons really well pretty much through most of the round, I hit it pin-high a lot, which in the wind is obviously difficult, so I really wasn’t in trouble very much,” said Harrington.
“ I missed a tap-in on 16, I was trying to tap it in and missed it from from less a foot. That softened my cough a little bit and it didn’t make any of the short putts easier after that, two and three foot was looking very long later on in the round.
“[It was a] Pity to three-putt the last, a couple of missed opportunities, first hole as well, I hit a lovely shot in but I got the wind wrong and hit it clean over the green. So it was awkward like that.
“I certainly prefer to play this course in a crosswind, I find this is very playable in a crosswind and with the forecast we knew Thursday was going to a bad day, so when it came out that I was on Kingsbarns, I was very happy about that. It is a very playable course in bad conditions.”
Also starting from the 10th, McGinley was three under after eight holes after back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th, but he handed those gains back with bogeys on the 18th and first to slip back to one under. He would get back to three under by the close of the day, with birdies on the third and sixth holes.
Shane Lowry carded a level-par 72 at Kingsbarns, but Graeme McDowell dropped six shots in his first six holes in an opening nine of 42 shots as he carded a five-over 77. Paul Dunne closed with a triple-bogey seven at Kingsbarns in his 78.
(British and Irish unless stated, par 72)
69 Paul McGinley, Pádraig Harrington, Jin-ho Choi (Kor)
70 Brooks Koepka (USA), Peter Hanson (Swe), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Tyrrell Hatton, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp)
71 Jason Scrivener (Aus), Tom Lewis, Stephen Gallacher, Tommy Fleetwood, Brandon Stone (Rsa)
72 Marcel Siem (Ger), Andrew Sullivan, Lasse Jensen (Den), Ernie Els (Rsa), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), Shane Lowry, Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
73 Richie Ramsay, Branden Grace (Rsa), Matt Kuchar (USA), Sam Locke, Tony Finau (USA), Ockie Strydom (Rsa), Jordan Smith, Zac Blair (USA), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
74 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Andrew Dodt (Aus), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Scott Hend (Aus), Jake McLeod (Aus), Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Louis Ger Jager (Rsa), Sam Brazel (Aus)
75 Haotong Li (Chn), Ross Fisher, Martin Kaymer (Ger), Luke Donald, Eddie Pepperell, Pep Angles (Esp)
76 Oliver Gillberg (Swe), Matthew Fitzpatrick
77 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Graeme McDowell, David Howell, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa)
78 Paul Dunne, Jean-Paul Strydom (Rsa)
79 Chase Koepka (USA)
81 Ulrich Van Den Berg (Rsa)
68 Matt Wallace
69 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
70 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Lucas Herbert (Aus)
71 Oliver Bekker (Rsa), Peter Karmis (Rsa), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Lee Slattery, Alexander Levy (Fra)
72 Andrea Pavan (Ita), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Connor Syme, Thomas Detry (Bel), Chris Paisley, Renato Paratore (Ita), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)
73 David Drysdale, David Lipsky (USA), Ashley Chesters, Justin Walters (Rsa), Matthew Southgate, Nino Bertasio (Ita), Oliver Fisher
74 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Robin Dawson, Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Doug Ghim (USA), Richard Sterne (Rsa), Michael Hoey
75 Steven Brown, Marc Warren, Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Daniel Im (USA), Jonathan Thomson, Wade Ormsby (Aus), Bradley Neil, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp)
76 Chris Wood, JC Ritchie (Rsa), George Coetzee (Rsa), Brett Rumford (Aus), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Laurie Canter, Freddie Jacobson (Swe), Jamie Donaldson
77 Haydn Porteous (Rsa), David Horsey, Scott Fernandez (Esp), Zander Lombard (Rsa), Adrian Otaegui (Esp)
78 Matteo Manassero (Ita), Carlos Pigem (Esp)
79 Chris Hanson
80 Dean Burmester (Rsa)
81 Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa)
83 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra)
68 Marcus Fraser (Aus)
69 Matthias Schwab (Aut)
72 Richard Bland, Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Oliver Farr
73 Jordan Zunic (Aus), Sebastien Gros (Fra), Ken Duke (USA), Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), James Morrison, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)
74 Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Clement Sordet (Fra), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Kim Koivu (Fin), Sam Horsfield, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Gregory Havret (Fra)
75 Adrien Saddier (Fra), James Marchesani (USA), Adam Bland (Aus), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Nacho Elvira (Esp)
76 Norman Xiong (USA), Richard McEvoy, Simon Dyson, Paul Peterson (USA), Scott Jamieson, Harry Ellis, Jason Norris (Aus), Robert Rock, Deyen Lawson (Aus), Kyle McClatchie (Rsa), Pedro Oriol (Esp)
77 Liam Johnston, Matthew Jordan, Jaco Ahlers (Rsa), Richard T Lee (Can), Gavin Green (Mal), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Soomin Lee (Kor)
78 Romain Wattel (Fra), Ryan Evans, Callum Shinkwin, Jens Dantorp (Swe), Aaron Rai
79 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Daniel Brooks, Bradley Dredge
80 Austin Connelly (Can)
81 Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa)
82 Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind)
84 Pelle Edberg (Swe)