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Marcus Fraser survives 'brutal' conditions at Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to claim share of lead with Matt Wallace

Marcus Fraser tees off at Carnoustie – Getty Images Europe

Australia’s Marcus Fraser survived “brutal” conditions to claim a share of the lead with England’s Matt Wallace after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.

On a day when strong winds made scoring difficult and only 24 players in the 168-strong field broke par, Fraser carded a four-under 68 at Carnoustie, traditionally the hardest of the three courses used for the pro-am event on the European Tour.

Wallace, who missed out on a Ryder Cup wild card despite three wins this season – including the final qualifying event in front of Europe captain Thomas Bjorn – compiled his 68 on the Old Course at St Andrews.

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington, who is favourite to follow in Bjorn’s footsteps in 2020, both shot 69 at Kingsbarns to lie a shot off the lead alongside Phachara Khongwatmai, Jinho Choi and Matthias Schwab.

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, who is seeking a third straight win in the event, is a shot further back on two under alongside reigning US Open and US PGA champion Brooks Koepka.

Hatton’s Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood recovered from a poor start to play his last eight holes at Kingsbarns in four under par to record an opening 71. Tony Finau, who beat Fleetwood in the singles in the Ryder Cup on Sunday, carded a 73 at the same venue.

Fraser, who carded five birdies and one bogey at this year’s Open venue of Carnoustie, told Sky Sports: “It’s brutal out there. It’s probably the toughest wind I’ve played this course in today. It was nice to play pretty steady and hole a few putts.

“Downwind was just as hard as into the wind, it was really tricky to control it and try to get the right distances. We were out by probably 20-30 yards some times but it just can’t be helped. You get a firm bounce and it just takes off.

“And the cross breezes as well down those last two holes, the ball just drops out of the air and doesn’t fly. It’s hard to gauge but I felt like I did a really good job of it today.”

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