Foster leads at Gleneagles

England’s Mark Foster has the edge after day one of the Johnnie Walker Championship thanks to a six-under 66.

England’s Mark Foster has the edge after day one of the Johnnie Walker Championship thanks to a six-under 66.

The 36-year-old leads Spaniard Ignacio Garrido and Argentina’s Tano Goya by one shot on a day that saw a two and a half hour delay due to morning fog, leaving many of the later starters still out on the course when bad light stopped play.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, Irishman Peter Lawrie and Chilean Felipe Aguilar are a further shot behind Garrido and Goya after respective 68s, while a whole host of players lie on three under – several of whom are yet to complete their first rounds.

Foster started on the back nine, and after a par on the tenth, he rattled off four consecutive birdies before adding two more at the 17th and 18th.

Already six under at the turn, he had to settle for two more birdies and two bogeys on his back nine to finish on six under par for the tournament.

“It was a good, solid day. My caddie was quite good actually,” Foster said.

“Obviously being seven under I felt like I could have been a couple better and all of a sudden, going back to 5 you don’t think you’re going any good and you’re still five under par starting the tournament, which is in a great position to be in.”

Foster, whose sole European Tour victory came eight years ago, has not only put himself in pole position at Gleneagles, he’s given himself a chance of making the Great Britain and Ireland team for the Seve Trophy against Continental Europe next month. It comes on the back of one of his best seasons yet, and it’s a prospect he’s excited about.

“I’ve been trying hard all year to make it and if it comes around it will be a massive thing for me,” he said.

Not even a reported problem with bees and wasps on the course could deter Foster on Thursday.

“I remember having to make a birdie putt with a wasp on the ball,” he added.

“It’s going to come off when you hit it and I just felt in a good place, so I hit the putt.”

The fog delay meant a lot of waiting around, and Foster used that time to warm up – three times.

“I wanted to get loose and be ready to go, so it was a good sacrifice to do it,” he explained.

Foster has put himself in good positions before this year – he led with one round left to play at both the BMW International and the French Open, but he could do no better than third and joint-second respectively.

“I learned a lot from that,” he said. “I would say I lost that tournament through nerves really, just not controlling myself.

“But I think it took that week for me to be able to play the way I’ve been playing at the moment, where I have more belief in myself and know I can do it.

“I think I’m a better person and a better player.”

Elsewhere, Nick Dougherty, who is trying to end a run of 20 successive missed cuts, sadly showed few signs of a return to form, eventually shooting a four-over 76 that included a quadruple-bogey seven on the par three sixth.

Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal teed off together later in the afternoon, and were one under and one over respectively with two holes left to play.