ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — With nasty weather on the horizon, golfers at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship were looking to get in a good early score on the storied Scottish courses hosting the European tour event.
No one did better than Romain Langasque on the most famous course of all.
The 27-year-old Frenchman tied the course record on the Old Course at St. Andrews by shooting 11-under 61 in the first round Thursday, including a second-nine 28 that contained five birdies and an eagle on his last six holes at the home of golf.
“I never thought I would have the course record at St. Andrews,” the No. 272-ranked Langasque said. “But now my name is on the board.”
It was a career-low round for Langasque — his previous best on the European tour was a 63 — that put him in a good position to contend for a second title, after the Wales Open in 2020.
Tougher tests are around the corner, though.
Friday’s forecast is for heavy rain and strong winds of more than 40 mph (64 kph), which will be a severe examination for the 168 players in the field who must play each of St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie across the first three days. The fourth and final round takes place at St. Andrews.
There will be a shotgun start at 8.30 a.m. local time on Friday in an effort to avoid the worst of the weather and the No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy is among those bracing himself after shooting 4-under 68 at Carnoustie, widely regarded as the toughest of the three courses.
“Overall, you’re not going to get Carnoustie in easier conditions so I feel like I left a few shots out there,” said McIlroy, who bogeyed his final hole. “You don’t want to be chasing going into what looks like really bad weather tomorrow so at least I put a red number on the board and have a few shots to play with.”
McIlroy will be playing his second round at Kingsbarns, which he believes is the easiest of the three courses to play in good weather and the hardest in bad weather because it is most exposed to the elements.
Most of the best scores came at St. Andrews and Kingsbarns, where another Frenchman — Frederic Lacroix — shot a bogey-free 10-under 62 to move into second place, one stroke behind Langasque, approaching the end of the first round.
Spain’s Nacho Elvira also began at Kingsbarns and was bogey-free, too, in his 64.
Langasque led the way, though, after a round that started at No. 10 and with a bogey on his second hole of the day. He bounced back with an eagle at the next hole after driving the green and making a 52-foot putt.
Langasque also eagled the par-5 No. 5 before closing with four straight birdies to tie the 61 made by Ross Fisher at the same event in 2017.
“The game was good,” he said, smiling, “but it didn’t feel like I shot 11 under.”