Richard Bland’s hopes of a first European Tour win and a place in next week’s Open Championship are well and truly alive after a superb first round at the Scottish Open.

The Stoneham pro overcame two early bogeys to card a four-under-par opening round at Royal Aberdeen.

That left Bland in the top ten last night, three shots off the leader, Rory McIlroy.

The event represents the final opportunity for players to qualify for this year’s Open.

The leading three players who finish in the top ten and ties, and who do not already have a place in the field, will be awarded a spot at Royal Liverpool.

There was also a stunning first day for Liphook’s Sam Hutsby, as he carded a six-under-par effort in the opening round of the Challenge Tour’s latest event, in Slovakia, to grab a share of second place.