- Francesco Molinari breaks Castle Stuart course record
- No.1 Luke Donald makes return after U.S. Open woes
- Phil Mickelson struggles to find his game
- Spaniard Alejandro Canizares leads the chasing pack
Francesco Molinari shot the lowest round ever at Castle Stuart in Inverness to lead after the first day of the Scottish Open on 10-under 62.
Defending champion, and world number one, Luke Donald carded a five-under-par 67 to trail the Italian by five shots Thursday.
Molinari is continuing his great form from the French Open, where he finished second, to put himself amongst the contenders for next week's British Open as well as cementing his place in the Ryder Cup team.
On his recent form, the Italian admitted, "I know it's not going to last forever, but I hope to keep this going a little bit longer -- obviously next week, but the next month or so is really big for the Ryder Cup. That, probably more than the Open, is in my mind."
Molinari shot 10 birdies as he stormed into the lead and he later dedicated the performance to his brother, Edoardo.
The older Molinari recently had wrist surgery and is likely to miss the entire summer. Francesco said afterwards, "It would be nice to do well this week for him as well -- to cheer him up a little bit."
Englishman Luke Donald was making his first appearance since his U.S. Open disaster, when he missed the cut after finishing 11 over from 36 holes.
Donald told AFP: "Overall, it's a pretty satisfying start after being away from the game for three weeks so to come back and find some form pretty early on is encouraging."
Like the Italian leader, American Phil Mickelson will have an eye on September's Ryder Cup, but endured a round to forget on the links course.
The big American has left his family on holiday in Italy to get some more playing time ahead of Royal Lytham, but his 73 left him 11 shots behind Molinari.
Last year's British Open runner-up started well with two birdies in his first three holes.
However, the 42-year-old went on to hit three bogeys and managed a seven on the 12th.
Spaniard Alejandro Canizares had a day to remember after hitting birdies on the final six holes to finish two off the lead.
Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Raphael Jacquelin were a further shot behind.