Dermot McElroy, Michael Hoey and Gavin Moynihan warmed up for the Irish Open with hot starts in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.
McElroy opened with a four under par 67 that was only beaten by Welshman Richard James, whose six-under 65 gave him a two-shot lead.
The Ballymena man is tied for second with Spain’s Pedro Oriol and Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg with 38-year-old Hoey tied for fifth after a three-under 68.
Moynihan also had a good day, carding five birdies in a two-under 69 to share eighth place with Chris Selfridge (71) tied 22nd on what was a mixed day for the Irish.
While Ruaidhri McGee and Neil O’Briain are tied 47th after two over 73s, Kevin Phelan (76), Cormac Sharvin (77) and Gary Hurley (79) have work to do after a miserable day of wind and rain in Aviemore.
“It was brutal out there,” leader James said. "The wind was up and down and gusting a lot, I hit one on nine which I thought was good but it went well over the green.
The shot of the day came from Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli, who made an albatross at the par five 13th at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club, holing out for two from 246 yards with a three iron.
“I hit a perfect shot,” he said. “At the 13th the wind was helping from the right, and I hit a low three iron. I didn’t see it go in but it kind of bounced first and ran on into the hole – it was a great feeling as it was my first ever albatross.”
Scores after Round One:
65 R James (Wal),
67 D McElroy (Nir), P Oriol (Esp), M Lundberg (Swe),
68 E Van Rooyen (RSA), J Senior (Eng), M Hoey (Nir),
69 S Fernandez (Esp), J Dantorp (Swe), M Ford (Eng), G Moynihan (Irl), C Ford (Eng), V Riu (Fra), S Brown (Eng),
70 R McEvoy (Eng), A Rai (Eng), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), M Madsen (Den), J Doherty (Sco), M Tullo (Chi), M Lafeber (Ned),
71 C Selfridge (Nir), A Meronk (Pol), L Canter (Eng), N Cullen (Aus), J Hansen (Den), J Rutherford (Eng), J Girrbach (Sui), S Forsström (Swe), E Goya (Arg), N Møller (Den), M Kinhult (Swe), N Ravano (Ita), V Perez (Fra),
72 J McDonald (Sco), A Wennstam (Swe), M Hocaoglu (Tur), K Samooja (Fin), A Connelly (Can), M Orrin (Eng), O Farr (Wal), J Heath (Eng), J Suri (USA), N Johansson (Swe), C Griffiths (Eng), D Van Driel (Ned),
73 B Hafthorsson (Isl), B Eccles (Aus), S Henry (Sco), L Gagli (Ita), M Nixon (Eng), D Fox (Aus), N O'Briain (Irl), M Lampert (Ger), M Haastrup (Den), T Shadbolt (Eng), R McGee (Irl), M Schwab (Aut), A Schwartz (Fra), D Dixon (Eng),
74 R Davies (Wal), C Bezuidenhout (RSA), P Widegren (Swe), M Wiegele (Aut), F Laporta (Ita), G Forrest (Sco), M Ovesen (Den), A Pavan (Ita), C Koepka (USA), G Hutcheon (Sco), D Kay (Sco), A McArthur (Sco), J Sarasti (Esp), J McLeary (Sco), J Parry (Eng), P Dedek (Cze), R Santos (Por), P Whiteford (Sco), T Tree (Eng), G Boyd (Eng), R Kellett (Sco), P Maddy (Eng), S Tiley (Eng), C Lee (Sco), J Ross (Sco),
75 O Suhr (Den), R Kakko (Fin), E Di Nitto (Ita), R Echenique (Arg), D Huizing (Ned), C Braeunig (Ger), R Saxton (Ned), T Santos Silva (Por), R McCarthy (Aus), S Soderberg (Swe), J Brun (Fra), W Besseling (Ned), B Hellgren (Swe), N Geyger (Chi), H Casey (Eng), C Lawrie (Sco), M Delpodio (Ita), M Iten (Sui),
76 T Lawrence (RSA), K Phelan (Irl), C Gane (Eng), L Vaisanen (Fin), O Rozner (Fra), B Åkesson (Swe), T Pulkkanen (Fin), M Baldwin (Eng), R Coles (Eng), E Cuartero Blanco (Esp), D Law (Sco),
77 M Laskey (Wal), J Van Der Vaart (Ned), P Howard (Eng), F Maccario (Ita), R Dinwiddie (Eng), G Migliozzi (Ita), J Mullen (Eng), P Shields (Sco), E España (Fra), C Sharvin (Nir), B Neil (Sco), B Virto (Esp),
78 J Lando Casanova (Fra), D Foos (Ger), W Booth (Sco), S Benson (Eng), R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), M Cort (Eng), B Evans (Eng), J Abbott (Eng),
79 G Hurley (Irl), L Lilja (Esp), S Arnold (Aus), I Campbell (Wal), B Paolini (USA), T Murray (Eng), J Allan (Eng), S Lawrie (Sco), G Porteous (Eng),
80 J Zunic (Aus), O Stark (Swe), R Finch (Eng), A Tadini (Ita), J Shim (am) (Tur),
81 J Sjöholm (Swe),
82 A Velasco (Esp), A Culverwell (Sco),
83 H Dobson (Eng), M Fenasse (Fra),
84 R Evans (Eng),
86 J Carlota (Por),
** S Webster (Eng).