(CNN) -- Thomas Bjorn, non-playing captain of the Continental Europe team hammered by Britain and Ireland last weekend, holds a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship played over three Scottish courses.
Thomas Bjorn was only one shot away from his lowest-ever score after carding a 64 at Kingsbarns.
The 38-year-old Dane carded an eight-under-par 64 at Kingsbarns to lead England's Ross McGowan and Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin -- and was only one shot outside his lowest-ever score on the European Tour.
Bjorn's last trip to Scotland was for the Johnnie Walker Championship five weeks ago and on that occasion he opened with an horrendous 82.
However, that was his first event for nearly two months, a lay-off caused by dizziness and fatigue so bad that he was sent for a brain scan.
This time Bjorn had four birdies in a back nine 32, eagled the 516-yard third and picked up further strokes on the fourth and sixth.
"It was a hard week last week -- I spent a lot of time thinking and using the head -- but I got inspired by it," Bjorn told reporters.
"I drove the ball fantastic all day and for the first time in a long time started rolling in a few putts. It's just nice to walk off and feel like for once I got what I deserved."
Maybin, so close to his first European Tour win last December when he lost a play-off in the South African Open to Richard Sterne, was also playing at Kingsbarns and did not drop a stroke either in his 66.
McGowan, third on his last start at the European Masters a month ago, was at St Andrews and keen to take advantage of the relatively calm conditions as much as he could because he will be at the far tougher Carnoustie course on Saturday when 40mph winds are predicted.
A 50-foot putt at the second was his highlight and the 27-year-old, who birdied six of his last 10 holes, stated: "That was the lowest round I've had on the Old Course from the 30-odd times I've played here."
Best score at Carnoustie was the five-under 67 by Richie Ramsay, the Scot called into the event when Paul Casey pulled out injured late last week and needing a top 10 finish to secure his European Tour card for next season.
Most of the big names were also at Carnoustie, but they had mixed fortunes. Rory McIlroy, with a chance to go top of the money list this weekend, had a 68, the same as fellow-Ulsterman Darren Clarke.
Padraig Harrington bogeyed the last for a 70, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie could do no better than 73 and Robert Karlsson and Nick Dougherty, the last two winners of the title, slumped to 76 and 78.