Craig Lee enjoys 'surprising' 65 on European Tour return in Scottish Open

Stirling man feared the worst after losing lots of ball in practice round

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:33 pm
Craig Lee and caddie Gavin Tullis talk tactics on the 10th hole during the first round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Craig Lee and caddie Gavin Tullis talk tactics on the 10th hole during the first round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Craig Lee enjoyed an incredible return to the European Tour after a three-year absence despite fearing the worst when he almost ran out of balls in one of his practice rounds for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

The 43-year-old Stirling man, who quit the game altogether for two years after calling time on his career as a tour pro after losing a card he'd held for six consecutive seasons at the end of the 2017 campaign, opened with a six-under-par 65 to sit just three shots off the lead in a tie for fifth.

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"That was surprising," admitted Lee, smiling, of an effort that was transformed by a burst of four birdies in a row and five in six holes on his back nine at The Renaissance Club. "The target was to toddle along and not turn up tomorrow having to shoot five-under to make the cut.

"I hit a couple of ropey drives to begin with and I was thinking, 'I could be in trouble', but then made a couple of nice pars then got on a nice birdie run and it just kept snowballing. It was just fun."

Lee, who lost to Thomas Bjorn in a play-off in the 2013 Omega European Masters in Switzerland, had been worried that a course playing at just under 7,300 yards would be too long for him on his return to the top table.

"I played it on Monday right off the back tips, playing the front nine, and I was a bit concerned as we went through quite a few golf balls," he added.

"It wasn't the reason we came in after nine holes, but it was certainly getting close to it (laughing). I just walked the back nine and I was concerned how tough it was going to be.

"But the weather worked out tremendous for us today - we could not have got a better draw as it was flat calm the whole way round and the greens were a wee bit more receptive after the rain overnight and then this morning."

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