Scotland’s Liam Johnston carded the best round of his European Tour career, firing a bogey-free, 10-under 61 to take the first-round lead Thursday at the Portugal Masters.
The 27-year-old Johnston, who is making just his sixth Euro Tour start of the season as he tries to regain full status, birdied four of his first six holes to turn in 4-under 31 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura. He added six more birdies on the back nine, including at the par-5 17th, where his second shot barely cleared the water.
To date, Johnston’s best finish on the tour is his T-5 showing at last year’s D+D Real Czech Masters. He missed the first three cuts in the Euro Tour’s return to competition earlier this summer before sharing 15th place at the Wales Open last month.
“I told my coach back home that I was swinging it as good as I have,” Johnston said. “My game feels like it's really trending in the right direction, more importantly I'm in a really good place mentally. I didn't see a round like this coming, but I feel like I was playing well.”
France’s Julien Guerrier sits in solo second at 9 under, two shots clear of England’s Laurie Canter and three ahead of Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell. Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shares fifth with three others at 5 under while fellow Dane Lucas Bjerregaard is tied for ninth with South Africa’s Brandon Stone.
Tommy Fleetwood, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 16 in the world rankings, shot 68 and shares 21st place.