Kevin Kisner benefitted from glorious conditions to take a one-shot lead in the first round of The Open as a familiar cast of stars including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas loomed in the shadows.
American Kisner signed for a five-under-par 66 at a baked Carnoustie on Thursday and the early signs were that lower scores were attainable as the day progressed.
But as the winds picked up slightly, the afternoon starters struggled to match the numbers posted by the morning tee-offs.
Kisner was one shot above the trio of Erik van Rooyen, Zander Lombard and Tony Finau, with Brandon Stone, Brendan Steele and Ryan Moore two shots back.
It is perhaps the likes of 2014 victor McIlroy, Rahm and US PGA Championship holder Thomas that will give Kisner most cause for concern, though, as part of a pack of players all on two under.
Tiger Woods threatened something special with two birdies in his opening four holes, including draining a 12-foot putt at the first, but three bogeys and just one gain in a stretch of six holes on the back nine slowed his progress and he finished even par.
Jordan Spieth will be disappointed not to have built on an electric start that saw him reach the 11th at three under. The defending champion had to play sideways out of a bunker en route to a double-bogey six at the 15th, and two more dropped shots – one after finding the Barry Burn with a wayward tee shot at the last – followed as he settled for a one-over 72.
Kisner may have been helped by the conditions, but the 34-year-old – part of a house-share that includes Thomas and Spieth this week – was in majestic form.
A bogey at the fifth was quickly followed by a lengthy putt for eagle at the par-five sixth and a birdie at the eighth preceded three consecutive gains between the 13th and 15th on the way home.
Even when he found trouble down the stretch, Kisner's unflappable putting – he played just 22 strokes with the flatstick – saved the day, including a fine rescue out of the bunker at the last.
With the warm conditions creating extremely quick fairways, the use of irons off the tee to focus on accuracy as opposed to distance was a common theme.
McIlroy went against the grain by regularly opting to use his driver, hitting only 26.7 per cent of fairways as a result.
But the Northern Irishman, aiming to end a major drought stretching back to 2014, spoke earlier this week of a desire to play with an aggressive, carefree attitude and despite his struggles staying on the short grass he carded only one bogey.
Thomas bucked the trend of the afternoon starters by racing to four under through 11 holes, although a couple of bogeys at the 12th and 16th prevented him finishing even higher up the leaderboard.
Rahm, who practised with McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in the build-up to Thursday's play, remains in contention despite two bogeys slightly negating four birdies.
World number one Dustin Johnson faces a battle to make the weekend as a triple-bogey seven at the 18th left him five over, while the likes of Sergio Garcia (+4), Patrick Reed (+4) and Bubba Watson (+4) all need to improve to extend their stays beyond Friday.
12. Dezember 2018
|Juventus achieved their objective, despite everything going wrong – Allegri|
|Never say never - Schmidt not ruling out All Blacks role|
|Bologna´s winning start ended in BCL|
|Di Francesco critical of Roma performance|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 1 Lyon 1: Fekir fires French side through in Group F|
|Benfica 1 AEK Athens 0: Grimaldo sends hosts out on a high|
|Young Boys 2 Juventus 1: Hoarau double seals famous victory|
|Manchester City 2 Hoffenheim 1: City through as group winners after Sane brace|
|Ajax 3 Bayern Munich 3: Kovac´s men clinch top spot in Amsterdam thriller|
|Valencia 2 Manchester United 1: Jones scores own goal as Red Devils limp through|
|Solari accepts responsibility for Madrid´s heaviest home defeat in Europe|
|WATCH: Rooney backs Rocky ahead of Canelo showdown|
|McLaren to collaborate with Team Bahrain Merida|
|Las Vegas to host 2020 NFL Draft|
|Stade teenager tragically dies after neck injury|
|Cahill may need to leave Chelsea if he wants to play, admits Sarri|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 Roma 1: Chory winner takes hosts into Europa League|
|Real Madrid 0 CSKA Moscow 3: Champions humiliated at Bernabeu|
|Sarri condemns ´disgusting´ Sterling abuse|
|Hansen hails outstanding Ben Smith ahead of Pau switch|
|Foden, Sterling start for Manchester City v Hoffenheim|
|Sky decision will not affect us in 2019, insist Froome and Thomas|
|Al Ain 3 Team Wellington 3 (aet, 4-3 on penalties): Shootout heartbreak for semi-pros in Club World|
|Jackson to remain Ravens´ starting QB despite Flacco return|
|Rams headline 2019 NFL International Series home teams|
|Rams headline International Series home teams for 2019|
|Atlanta want ´exciting football´ from new boss amid Bielsa links|
|Atlanta still yet to receive ´serious´ bid for ´Bale-like´ Almiron|
|Tottenham v Manchester United to be held at Wembley|
|Matip facing six weeks out with fractured collarbone|
|I´ve had quite a lot of calls – Brailsford encouraged by Team Sky interest|
|Afghanistan Football Federation president provisionally banned by FIFA|
|Knee injury rules Huddersfield´s Mooy out of Asian Cup|
|Arnautovic tipped for Man United move by Austria team-mate Sabitzer|
|Arsenal legend Adams to become RFL president|
|My love for football still burns strong – Toure speaks out amid talk of Premier League return|
|Noble contract extended to 2021|
|Split with Sky is an opportunity, says Brailsford|
|Van der Burgh rolls back the years, two more medals for Hosszu|
|Maitland-Niles praises Sterling for speaking out|
|Life is tough for him right now - Celtic striker Griffiths to take time away from football|
|Froome: Team Sky keen to continue with new partner|
|Emery confirms Koscielny to play against Qarabag|
|Llorente keen on Athletic return|
|I love the guy - Pocock backs under-pressure Cheika|
|Fit-again Ozil in line for Arsenal return against Qarabag|
|Raheem Sterling named Premier League Player of the Month|
|Two more Ligue 1 games postponed due to unrest|
|Pace attack among India´s best ever - Arun|
|Premier League has fostered ´excessive aggression´ among fans, says Scudamore|
|Sharks back Flanagan amid NRL investigation|
|Not good for my recovery! Hoddle delights in Spurs´ Champions League heroics|
|Harris backing Starc to fire in Perth|
|No fears over Atleti´s second-place finish for Simeone|
|Clippers buckled under Raptors pressure - Rivers|
|Icardi: Inter deserved to qualify|
|Team Sky future unclear as Sky opt to end involvement in cycling|
|PSG had to change mentality - Thiago Silva|
|Rockets make change, pick up win over Trail Blazers|
|Everything´s easier when you´ve got Messi – Miranda|
|From George Cross to Arsenal – Montemurro´s rise to make Gunners great again|
|Koulibaly challenges Napoli to win Europa League|
|Raptors star Leonard out against Clippers, may miss matchup with Warriors|
|Butler opens up about heated Timberwolves practice|
|Spurs achieved ´mission impossible´, says Pochettino|
|Dembele stunner pleases Barca boss Valverde|
|Van Dijk lauds ´fantastic´ Alisson|
|Van Dijk´s tackle on Mertens worthy of red card – Ancelotti|
|Klopp ´would have paid double´ for Alisson|
|Klopp: I don´t care about Madrid revenge mission|