Newport (Wales), August 21: Connor Syme birdied the last to hold a share of the lead with Jordan Smith after the first round of the Wales Open.
Syme is bidding to qualify for the U.S. Open this week, with four spots up for grabs in the last of five events with points to be won in the UK Swing mini Order of Merit.
The Scotsman made a great start at The Celtic Manor Resort, where gusty conditions provided a real test, with a five-under 66.
Syme already occupied one of the remaining spots that would ensure he tees off in the major at Winged Foot Golf Club from September 17-20 and a seventh birdie of the day at the 18th lifted him level with Smith as he attempts to make it mission accomplished.
There were bogeys at the eighth and 17th for the 25-year-old, but on both occasions he responded to those setbacks by hitting straight back with birdies.
Every player started the tournament on Thursday in with a chance of playing in the second major of the year and Smith put himself firmly in the mix, dropping just one shot at the fourth.
The Englishman made three birdies on the front nine and as many after the turn to sit top of a congested leaderboard on his own before he was joined by Syme.
Callum Shinkwin, Sebastian Soderberg, Kurt Kitayama and Robert MacIntyre are nicely poised just two shots behind the co-leaders.
Thomas Pieters is among six players just a further stroke back, while Thomas Bjorn shot a four-over 75 just four days after completing a 210 kilometre charity walk from Wentworth to Wales.