Scots golfer David Drysdale recovered from a dicey detour down Hogan’s Alley to get back on the right road in the Dunhill Links Championship.

While British Masters champ Paul Dunne and Belgium’s former Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts were leading after five-under 67s at the Old Course and Kingsbarns respectively, Drysdale spearheaded the home challenge with a battling three-under 69 at Carnoustie.

The par-five sixth on the formidable Angus links – named after the great Ben Hogan who conquered Carnoustie in the 1953 Open – can be a perilous palaver and Drysdale got himself in a bit of pickle after putting himself in a nice position off the tee and ended up with a double-bogey seven.

The repair job was akin to a panel beater clattering out the dents and Drysdale set about his task with purpose. Birdies at the 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th in testing conditions spoke volumes for Drysdale’s powers of recovery as he equalled the lowest score of the day at Carnoustie.

He said: “I’d hit a nice drive into the middle of the fairway and was trying to hit a low 2-iron but it hit the bunker face in front of me. I chipped out, couldn't get up with a 3-wood and took five shots to reach the green. Other than that, it was a solid round of golf.

“I played the back nine really well in tough conditions. It was tricky, as Carnoustie always is. I've done pretty well in this tournament in the past and it is nice to get Carnoustie out of the way at the start as it's normally the toughest of the three."

Glasgow’s Marc Warren continued his recent resurgence with a sturdy two-under 70 at Carnoustie while Cathkin Braes ace Scott Jamieson posted a similar score at Kingsbarns. Richie Ramsay had been two-over at the turn at Kingsbarns but dug deep to winkle out a one-under round. “I could have played myself out of the tournament but fortunately I managed to play my way back in,” said Ramsay, who finished eighth in last week’s British Masters.

“I’m proud of the way I bounced back after some rookie mistakes. You just have to keep battling.”

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, wasn’t firing on all cylinders and had to settle for a one-over 73 on the Old Course. His dad, Gerry, had a better time of it. “It was my dad’s birthday today and he enjoyed outplaying me on the front nine,” said McIlroy of his old man’s two-under outward half. “I have to admit this hasn’t been my best day, though.”