Johnston hits career-low 61 to take Portugal Masters lead

Liam Johnston in action on Thursday

Liam Johnston was in sensational form on day one of the Portugal Masters, carding a 10-under-par 61 to take a one-shot lead into Friday.

The 27-year-old Scot was in devastating form at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, going round bogey-free and making 10 birdies.

He might have done even better had his eagle-putt on the par-five 17th found the hole, but, as it was, he had to settle for a 10th birdie of the day.

Johnston reached the turn in just 31, seemingly putting himself in contention to match Oliver Fisher's historic 59 at the same course two years ago.

Unfortunately he could not quite reach that mark, though his back nine was even smoother as he came home in 30.

"With the rough out there, it's nice to keep the bogeys off the card," Johnston said afterwards. "I saved well when I needed to and I holed a lot of good putts out there. I'm delighted with the 10 birdies.

"I told my coach back home that I was swinging it as good as I have. 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."

Ordinarily he might have expected to have been in complete control at the top of the leaderboard after such a round, but Julien Guerrier made sure that was not the case.

The Frenchman, a late finisher on the day, is just a shot further back having also gone around without a single bogey.

Like Johnston, Guerrier is hoping to claim his first win on the European Tour and is well-placed for a challenge after a fine start.

Only two other players managed better than five-under for the day, with Laurie Canter – who had set the clubhouse lead – going round in 64 and Jonathan Caldwell carding 65.

Edited by Omnisport
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