McIlory has a 'hill to Climb
Rory adrift as Harrington and Lowry soar at Dunhill
Rory McIlroy found himself nine shots off the lead after a 1-over-par 73 in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but Padráig Harrington and Shane Lowry were very much in the mix near the top of the leaderboard.
However, it was former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson who outshone the four members of last week's winning team in the field.
Wilson carded an excellent eight-under-par 64 at Carnoustie, one of the three courses used for the pro-am event.
That gave the world number 792 a one-shot lead over France's Raphael Jacquelin, with Ryder Cup vice-captain Harrington a shot further back alongside fellow Irishman Lowry, whose 66 was the best score of the day at Kingsbarns.
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher was the best-placed of the Gleneagles quartet after a 68, with fellow rookie Victor Dubuisson returning a 71, world number one McIlroy (left) a 73 and Martin Kaymer a 74.
European captain Paul McGinley shot 72 in just his second European Tour event since July.
Harrington was on course to match Wilson's score until he bogeyed the final two holes at Carnoustie, the course where he won the first of his back-to-back Open titles in 2007.
"You go out, your head is down and you're working away and you get on the first tee and the scorer reminds you that you won the Open Championship here, that's kind of nice," said the Dubliner, who has slipped to 324th in the world rankings after six years without a win on a major worldwide tour.
"That was a little boost on the first tee box. That sort of thing is a good reminder. The spectators, that sort of thing, does remind you of good days back in 2007.
"Every week is a new week on Tour. I certainly enjoyed last week and I particularly enjoyed Sunday night.
"Maybe my preparation wasn't ideal coming in here on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but I know the golf courses well so I didn't have to play a lot before I got into the tournament to play here. I'm comfortable on them."
McIlroy managed just one birdie in his round. "A little bit flat, if I'm honest," McIlroy said when asked about his round. "Obviously with the crowds and everything we were playing in front of last week, to come here it seems a little quiet out there, but it was fun to get to play with my dad.
"I wish I had played a bit better and made a few more birdies but hopefully that will happen over the next couple of days.
"I want to win every week and I want to play well this week and at least give myself a chance. It was not the best score out there for me but we got the hardest course out of the way."
Walking the walk: Pádraig Harrington (l) and playing partner J P McManus at Carnoustie and (below) Shane Lowry reacts to a putt on the seventh green at Kingsbarns during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.