Cabrera upstages the stars

Rafael Cabrera-Bello was quickest out of his blocks in Thursday’s first round at the Dunhill Links Championship.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello was quickest out of the blocks when the morning field got away in Thursday’s first round at the Dunhill Links Championship.

The 27-year-old Spaniard eagled the third at Kingsbarns and then added birdies at the 4th, 6th and 9th holes to turn at 5-under with a one stroke lead over up-and-coming South African Jaco van Zyl and Scott Stephen Gallacher.

Van Zyl had birdied three of a faultless first seven holes, while Gallacher had posted two bogies, an eagle and two birdies in a contrasting, see-saw ride over 10 holes.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion was leading a five-strong pack a shot back at 3-under after 10 holes, the others in the mix being 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and fellow South African James Kingston and Scots David Drysdale and Stephen O’Hara.

Like Cabrera-Bello, most of the big guns were playing their first rounds at Kingsbarns – although not all of them with as much success as he was doing.

Reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel had reached the 12th at 2-under and World No 1 Luke Donald and 2010 US PGA champion Martin Kaymer had gone through the 6th and 8th holes respectively at 1-under while World No 2 Lee Westwood and American star Dustin Johnson were still at level-par coming to the turn.

Rory McIlroy and Robert Karlsson were even worse off.

McIlroy, the current US Open champion, was one-over after five holes and the big Swede 3-over after 11 holes.

And this in excellent weather with wind of no more than 10km/h.