FRANCE'S Matthieu Pavon took advantage of ideal conditions for the early starters to set a blistering pace in the first round of the ASI Scottish Open.

Pavon, who was in the fourth group out at 7am, eagled the par-five second at Gullane and added birdies at the third, fifth, sixth and eighth to race to the turn in 29.

However, that was only good enough to give the world number 182 a one-shot lead over Welshman Bradley Dredge, who had birdied five of the first seven holes as a lack of wind left the short par-70 layout virtually defenceless.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who won the 2013 Open at nearby Muirfield, was also among the early starters and had parred the opening hole.

Pavon's charge was halted by a bogey on the 10th and a double bogey on the next, but the low scoring continued with England's Matthew Southgate going out in 30 and recovering from a bogey on the 10th with back-to-back birdies.

At six under Southgate held a one-shot lead over Richard Sterne, Robert Rock and Rickie Fowler, who won the title the last time it was staged at Gullane in 2015.

Fowler carded a hat-trick of birdies from the second and then drove the green on the steeply downhill par-four sixth to set up an eagle from 15 feet.

Fowler added further birdies on the 11th and 12th to move into the lead on seven under par and raise the prospect of recording the first 59 on the European Tour, albeit on a par 70.

Sterne had set the early clubhouse target on five under following a 65, with Germany's Marcel Siem a shot behind after a 66.

Fowler's chances of an historic score suffered a major blow when he bogeyed the 13th and parred the next, leaving the world number seven needing to play the last four holes in five under par to break the magical 60 barrier.

Southgate parred his last five holes to join Sterne in the clubhouse lead on five under and revealed sharing his surname with the England football manager had drawn a few comments from the crowd.

"A few people were chucking out the 'nice shot Gareth' but I'm not sure Gareth threads it through linksy bunkers like I do with the driver," Southgate joked after a round containing an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys.

"I watched every minute [of the semi-final] and am obviously gutted with the result but not disappointed with their performance. It is a young side and I'm sure that they will come back and get better and the biggest positive is the way they got through the penalty shoot-out [in the last 16 against Colombia].

"Hopefully football will be coming home, just maybe a couple of years later than we wanted it to be."