Hartlepool golfer Graeme Storm and Damon Hill off to great start at Alfred Dunhill Links championship

GRAEME STORM: Six birdies at St Andrews
GRAEME STORM: Six birdies at St Andrews

GRAEME Storm took a leaf out of Damon Hill’s book by roaring to the front end of the golfing grid at St Andrews.

The Hartlepool ace, partnered by the ex-Formula One world champion at the home of golf, finished day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links championship in a tie for 11th place.

Storm holed six birdies in a round of 68 to be one of seven players on four under par over the three seaside Scottish courses.

It was a great start for the 36-year-old who carried on from where he left off at the ISPS Handa Wales Open last month, when he finished equal 12th.

The Alfred Dunhill Links championship, which has a prize pot of £3 million, is staged over three venues – Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews – and is unique in that it features celebrity partners for the golfers.

Storm was paired by 1996 world champion Hill and the duo were in the same four-ball as two-time major winner Sandy Lyle and his partner Don Felder, the Eagles guitarist.

The Hartlepool Golf Club member has traditionally played alongside Ronan Keating, but the Boyzone singer is currently working as a judge in Australia’s X Factor.

However, he found F1 legend Hill as perfect company as he made an explosive start.

Storm reeled off three birdies in the first five holes thanks to threes at the second and third and a four at the fifth.

He suffered his first bogey at the par three 11th, but he got the shot straight back with a three at the 12th to move into 14th place.

Another birdie at the 14th lifted him to 10th and Storm was threatening the very top positions.

A bogey five at one of the Old Course’s most famous tests, the 17th, known as the Road Hole, saw him go back to three under.

But Storm birdied the 18th in front of the historic clubhouse to sign for a 68.

Lyle also had six birdies on his card but five bogeys meant he shot a 71 to be in a tie of 40th place.

Storm and Hill will today play at Carnoustie, starting round two 39th out of 168 in the team event.

England’s Ollie Wilson was the man of the day after a 64 at Carnoustie, one shot in front of Raphael Jacquelin, who was playing the same venue.

Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry were one stroke back after 66s at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Fittingly it was the only Scot in the Ryder Cup triumph, Stephen Gallacher, who was the highest placed of the Team Europe heroes.

The Ryder Cup rookie was alongside Storm in 11th after a 68 at Carnoustie.

But it was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show for Rory McIlroy.

The world number one struggled to reproduce his Ryder Cup form, McIlroy trounced Rickie Fowler 5&4 on the last day at Gleneagles where Europe outclassed the USA 16½-11½.

But the 25-year-old registered only a single birdie at Carnoustie and ended the day one over par in 97th.

Ryder Cup team-mates Martin Kaymer and Victor Dubuisson also played Carnoustie, Dubuisson 40th on one under but Kaymer was 121st on two over par.

Winning European captain Paul McGinley shot a level par 70 at Carnoustie.

Celebrity players included Hugh Grant, Damian Lewis, Huey Lewis.Johan Cruyff, Michael Ballack, Luis Figo, Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Charlton, Alan Hansen, Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan.