|-7 D Law (Sco); -6 O Fisher (Eng), R Paratore (Ita), G Porteous (Eng); -5 A Cockerill (Can), P Figueiredo (Por), R Hajgaard (Nor)|
|Selected: -4 B Stow (Eng), A Chesters (Eng), C Hill (Sco), E Pepperell (Eng), J Singh Brar (Eng), J Caldwell (NI), L Slattery (Eng); -3 A Sullivan (Eng), MA Jimenez (Spa); -2 J Donaldson (Wal); -1 L Westwood (Eng)|
Scotland’s David Law shot a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the British Masters at Close House.
England’s Oliver Fisher and Garrick Porteous, and Italian Renato Paratore are joint second on six under.
Scotland’s Calum Hill and 2018 champion Eddie Pepperell are at four under.
It is the first of six events being held in the UK over the summer as the European Tour continues its return following the coronavirus break.
The first two events back after a four-month hiatus were held in Austria earlier in July but a much stronger field assembled in a bio-bubble for this week’s tournament, which is being held near Newcastle.
Lee Westwood is the tournament host and the 47-year-old started with a one-under-par 70 on a blustery day, with the odd spot of rain.
“It was a bit of a struggle,” said the world number 34. “I mis-clubbed a few times, which is probably not acceptable considering I’m a member here, but I putted well and managed to grind it out.”
Westwood was playing with defending champion Marcus Kinhult, who had a two-under 69, and Pepperell, who finished runner-up last year and won the tournament in 2018.
Pepperell had four birdies in six holes around the turn but said: “I could have got it to six or seven under so I definitely left a few out there.”
Law, ranked 470th in the world, had an even better run around the turn with seven birdies in eight holes from the sixth, including a run of five on the trot.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect after the long break but I was delighted with that,” said the 29-year-old, who won his solitary European Tour event in only his fifth tournament in 2019.
Fisher, who hit 16 greens in regulation, picked up six birdies over the same eight-hole stretch as Law and added another on the 18th, his only bogey coming on the second hole.
He was joined on six under late on by Porteous who had a similar round, bogeying the second and then holing seven birdies.
Canadian Aaron Cockerill, Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo and Rasmus Hojgaard of Norway are all on five under.
Veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez equals Sam Torrance’s record of 607 European Tour appearances this week and the 56-year-old Spaniard celebrated in style with a three-under-par 68.