Glasgow, July 12: Edoardo Molinari was a spectator when his brother Francesco won The Open last year, but he will be hoping to join him at Royal Portrush after surging into contention at the Scottish Open.
An eight-under 63 sees the Italian sit in a four-way tie for the lead after round one, alongside fellow Open hopefuls Romain Wattel and Nino Bertasio, with Matt Kuchar – runner-up at the 2017 championship at Royal Birkdale – completing the quartet.
The leading three players in the top 10 who are not already exempt will earn a spot at the world's oldest major in Northern Ireland next week.
"I'm in a good place at the minute," said Edoardo Molinari. "It seems like every week I'm playing better.
"I'm building something every week and when you play golf like this, it's quite easy but then everything can change in a very short amount of time.
"You just have to be careful and keep doing the same things and hopefully the results continue to improve."
There are some big names in action at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy among them.
He shot a 67 to sit alongside Justin Thomas on four under, while Rickie Fowler had to settle for an even-par round that included an eagle three at the 16th.
Henrik Stenson, another former Open winner, was blemish-free in his fine round of 65.