(Reuters) - Liam Johnston knew he was on a good round at the Portugal Masters on Thursday, he just had no idea how good.
The Scot lit up the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura with a bogey-free, 10-under-par 61 for a one-shot lead over France’s Julien Guerrier in the opening round of the European Tour event.
After snaring four birdies and making the turn in 31, Johnston sunk five more in his next seven holes and was in with a chance of a 59 at the same course where Oliver Fisher posted the magical mark two years ago.
He reached the green in two on the par-five 17th but dropped his eagle putt just short, before holding for par on the last.
“I had no idea actually. I thought (the course) was a par-72,” the 27-year-old said when asked if nerves crept in at the end of his round.
“I obviously tried to hole that putt on 17 to make eagle there but I just left it a little bit short. Nice par on the last.
“I’m delighted with the 10 birdies. 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.”
Guerrier carded four straight birdies from the 14th to finish second on nine-under, with Englishman Laurie Canter two strokes further behind in third place.
Tournament favourite Tommy Fleetwood signed for a three-under 68 and a share of 21st place.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru;Editing by Peter Rutherford
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