ST. ANDREWS, United Kingdom — Unheralded Oliver Wilson outshone four members of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday. Wilson, ranked 792nd in the world, belied his lowly status to card a superb eight-under-par 64 at Carnoustie, one of the three courses, along with St. Andrews and Kingsbarns, used for the pro-am event. That gave Wilson a one-shot lead over France’s Raphael Jacquelin, with Ryder Cup vice-captain Padraig Harrington a shot further back alongside fellow Irishman Shane Lowry, whose 66 was the best score of the day at Kingsbarns. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher was the best-placed of the quartet who helped Europe defeat the United States to retain the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles last weekend. Gallacher recorded an 68, with fellow Ryder Cup rookie Victor Dubuisson returning a 71, world number one Rory McIlroy a 73 and Martin Kaymer a 74. European captain Paul McGinley shot 72 in just his second European Tour event since July. Wilson, 34, has finished runner-up nine times on the European Tour, including in this event in 2009, but lost his card in 2012 and is currently trying to regain it via the Challenge Tour. “Looking at the forecast, getting Carnoustie out of the way is theoretically the best thing, but you’ve still got to go and play and shoot a good score to take advantage of it, and I’m delighted that I have,” he said. 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 Harrington, who has slipped to 324th in the world rankings after six years without a win on a major worldwide tour. McIlroy managed just one birdie in his round and admitted it was hard to get motivated after the Ryder Cup victory. “A little bit flat, if I’m honest,” McIlroy told Sky Sports 4 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.”