Hansen makes fast start
Four days after blowing his French Open chances with a closing 75 Denmark's Anders Hansen looked a different golfer in Inverness on Thursday.
The 41-year-old birdied the first four holes on Castle Stuart's inward half and instantly opened up a three-stroke lead at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Hansen was joint leader with a round to go at Le Golf National on Sunday, but did not even finish in the top 10 and so is still seeking his first European Tour success since the 2009 Joburg Open.
Most of the early crowd were following world number one Luke Donald - also this week's defending champion - Ernie Els and Scot Richie Ramsay.
Els, his confidence boosted by being in contention at last month's US Open, was playing his first tournament since then and admitted to having some rust in his system - yet he was the first of the trio to grab a birdie.
That came on the 168-yard 11th, while his two playing partners began with two pars.
Nine strokes separated what Hansen and England's Sam Hutsby did in their opening four holes as the 23-year-old from Portsmouth kicked off with back-to-back bogeys, double-bogeyed the 306-yard third and then dropped another shot on the next to be five over and last by four.
After two rounds of 80 in Paris - he crashed out in joint last place - former world number three Paul Casey matched Donald's start and so did Padraig Harrington and Sunday's winner Marcel Siem.
Hansen went to five under at the 337-yard 16th, his seventh, but behind him Els ran up a six on the 530-yard 12th - and Casey's struggles this season continued with a triple-bogey eight there.
Since dislocating his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve Casey has made only one halfway cut and has dropped from 20th in the world to 72nd.
Donald and Harrington birdied the 12th, however, to be one under.
Hansen's lead was trimmed to two when Italian Francesco Molinari - runner-up at the French Open following a dazzling last day 64 - birdied the 11th, 14th and 15th.
Hansen did well to save par on the long 18th. He failed to make the carry over the sandy waste area with his second shot, came up short of the green with his next, but got down in two more.
He turned in a five-under 31, but was joined when Molinari made it four birdies in a row.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee was only one behind following four birdies in his first five.
Donald and Harrington both improved to two under, but Els was only level par after seven holes that contained three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey at the 423-yard 15th.
Casey, meanwhile, was next-to-last on four over when he let another shot go at the 15th.