15 Oct 18
Defending champion Chris Kelly spreadeagled the field after firing an eight-under-par 62 in the opening round of the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles.
On a glorious autumn day, the 41-year-old carded two eagles in his blistering effort on the King's Course to open up a four-shot lead in the Tartan Tour's flagship event.
Kelly, who is attached to St Andrews-based Scotland for Golf, is bidding to become just the sixth player after John Panton, Eric Brown, Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance and Ross Drummond to claim this title four times or more.
"If only every golf tournament could be played here," said a smiling Kelly, having claimed all three of his previous victories - he won it for the first time in 2003 then again in 2015 before completing the hat-trick 12 months ago - at the Perthshire venue.
Newmachar's Greg McBain fared best of the rest with a 66, a shot better than Neil Fenwick (Dunbar), Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills Golf Centre), Chris Currie (Erskine) and the unattached Jamie McLeary.
However, the day belonged to Kelly, a former Tour No 1, as he turned on the style to eclipse his equally impressive opening 63 a year ago.
"I holed a couple of smelly putts at the first two holes - one from the back edge at the first from 25 feet back down the hill then a 30-footer at the second," he said.
The first of his eagles came at the sixth, where he hit a 7-iron to 12 feet, before rounding off a great day's working by sending a 6-iron to 15 feet at the last and also rolling in that putt.
"It's better than I expected as I have not been playing much this year and didn't know what to expect, really," added the leader. "
On a course that was in great condition considering that 35mm of rain fell on it in a 24-hour period over the weekend, McBain also signed off with a eagle as he, too, was pleased with his opening salvo.
"That's the hardest pins I've seen," said the Aberdonian, a joint runner-up 12 months ago, finishing six shots behind the impressive Kelly. "They were in some funky places, but it was a good test.
"I'm not playing as much these days due to the fact I'm doing a lot more teaching at Newmachar, but I think I'm actually enjoying it more when I do get to play."
Fenwick and McKechnie both finished with flourishes, picking up three birdies in the last five holes, while McLeary signed for six birdies on his debut in the event.
Two-time winner Greig Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) is in a group on 68 along 2012 champion Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf) and last year's Order of Merit winner Paul O'Hara (North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd).
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