Early riser Calum Hill enjoys flying start at Hero Open

Scotland’s Calum Hill took full advantage of favourable conditions to claim a narrow lead after the opening round of the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews.

In the second group out at 7.20am, Hill carded a flawless nine-under-par 63 to finish a shot ahead of Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell, with Ross Fisher, Chase Hanna and Robin Sciot-Siegrist on seven under.

With a strong wind making scoring difficult for the later starters none were able to get close to Hill’s total, although American Berry Henson’s 67 was arguably the best round of the day in the worst of the weather.

“We got the best part of (the weather), 100 per cent,” admitted Hill, who is seeking his first European Tour title after three wins on the Challenge Tour.

“Our front nine was relatively calm, probably half a club wind, then back nine picked up. We got three quarters of our day in quite pleasant conditions. I think it’s just getting worse from here – we took advantage.”

Caldwell, who won his first European Tour title in the Scandinavian Mixed last month, had missed the cut in his last four starts but bounced back with a 64 which included an eagle and seven birdies.

“I’m delighted,” Caldwell said. “Especially with recent form, it hasn’t been so good. Delighted that a bit of the work I’ve done over the last week or so with my coach at home is paying off. Hopefully I can keep going forward.

“I had the week off after (Sweden) and came straight back out and played Germany. I played okay but didn’t feel it was quite there. Then you’re always looking for something.

“It’s like a pendulum, you go one way with something and you’ve got to get back to where you were. Slowly getting back to where I was from Sweden form.

“I suppose (the win) takes a bit of the pressure off after missing four cuts in a row, that I don’t have to put pressure on myself to have good weeks to get the money up.

“Having those exemptions, knowing I’m in the big events with the big prize funds and the bigger points, it does take a bit of the pressure off but I still put pressure on myself to play well, make cuts and play well at the weekend.”