On an extremely tough scoring day at the Inverness venue, Chilean Aguilar and Australian Hend set the target courtesy of three under par rounds of 69, but a bunched field is lining up behind them with Harrington and McDowell joined in a share of third place by fellow Major Champion YE Yang.
“I’m very happy,” said Hend. “Obviously conditions were quite tough and was a little bit scrappy with some putts not quite getting to the hole but overall I’m very happy.
“We're just not so used to playing off such tight lies and playing into a strong wind. So I was trying to get back to adjusting for the spin rate off those lies into the wind. It's just something we haven't been used to for a while.”
“It's awesome fun, it doesn’t matter how hard it is. When you play links golf, it's just awesome. I love it. It beats your head in, kicks you around, and sometimes you get it back. It's just great fun. It's exciting.”
Multiple European Tour winners Alex Noren of Sweden and Englishman Andy Sullivan are also part of that chasing pack on two under par, whilst Luke Donald – who won at this venue in 2011 – is one of ten players on one under par.
Craig Lee, the leading Scot, is another one of those two shots off the pace while home favourite Russell Knox, who grew up in Inverness, is a shot further back on level par.
Phil Mickelson struggled in a round of 76, but with the wind set to die down on day two the five-time Major Champion will be hoping to take advantage of the more benign conditions and climb into contention to claim a second victory at Castle Stuart.
Henrik Stenson, the pre tournament favorite in many people's eyes, also opened with a round of 76 to be seven from the lead.
Andrew Dodt is the next best of the Australians after his opening round of 72.
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