Former European Tour professional Craig Lee is within touching distance of a spot at this week’s Scottish Open after an opening round of two under par at the two-day qualifying tournament at Longniddry.

Five years ago Lee lost out in a play-off with Thomas Bjorn for the European Masters title but in the intervening period, the 41-year-old from Stirling has lost his tour card, picked up a serious wrist injury and for all intents and purposes, hung up his clubs.

However, despite having played only three rounds since his last appearance on the circuit, in Spain in October, the lure of playing in the Scottish Open at Gullane was enough to encourage him to enter the qualifying tournament.

An impressive 66 yesterday has left him just one shot off the lead and in a good position to claim one of the four available qualifying spots.

Grant Wright and Sam Locke are leading the way after shooting 65s but Lee was hugely encouraged by his own round., even if it was something of a surprise.

“I intended to play a bit more this year than I have but I just haven’t had time,” Lee said.“So my round was a pleasant surprise.

“The putting was a bit ropey but I holed some nice six-footers to save par after being a bit hot-handed or the complete opposite, a bit too delicate, previously. But I hit the driver really well so that made things easier for me.”

Lee said if were to make it into the Scottish Open field, it would mean the world to him and he is optimistic that a similar score to his first round could be enough to get him over the line.

“I’d love to be there,” he said of the Scottish Open. “I believe we’re getting a bit more wind for the second round which might make it more interesting but I’d take another 66. I was surprised to go under par in the first place so I’d be happy with that again.”

Amateur Sam Locke, who is a member of the Paul Lawrie Academy, is in a fine run of form having secured a place in The Open by winning the qualifying event last Tuesday. And to have built on that result with yesterday’s round was, he said was hugely pleasing.

“I hit it really well but I just didn’t putt that great,” said Locke of yesterday’s round. “There’s been a lot going on but I couldn’t wait to get back competing. I’m feeling confident and I’m feeling in control, which is nice. So if I can get a few more putts going in, I should be in.”

Today’s battle for the four qualifying spots promises to be a dog-fight with 11 players just one shot behind the two leaders.