In these times of shrieking hyperbole and gasping exaggeration, it’s quite refreshing to hear a bit of shrugging understatement now and then. “No’ bad,” responded Chris Kelly when asked how his opening round had been in the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship. In fact, an eight-under 62 over the delightful King’s course at a sun-soaked Gleneagles was extremely good.

After being deluged by the kind of downpours that would’ve floated the Ark over the weekend, the calm, dry autumnal scene yesterday illustrated the majesty of this neck of the woods and Kelly put on quite a shimmering show too.

As the reigning Scottish PGA champion, the 41-year-old made a rousing start to his title defence to open up a commanding four-shot lead over Greg McBain. With three national crowns already in his trophy cabinet, the Glasgow golfer is aiming to become just the sixth player, after John Panton, Eric Brown, Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance and Ross Drummond, to win four times or more.

A birdie putt of some 25 feet from the back of the first green was followed by a 30-footer for another gain at the second as Kelly unleashed a robust early salvo. An eagle on the sixth continued the offensive and he would put the tin lid on a fine day’s work by whipping a nice 6-iron into 15-feet on the last and rolling in another eagle.

“I had a 63 here in last year’s championship but this is my best,” said Kelly. “It’s better than I expected. I’ve not been playing as much this year but sometimes when you come into something with not many expectations you can just free-wheel a bit.”

Leading the chasing pack is McBain, who is used to seeing Kelly up ahead in the distance at this event. McBain was joint-runner up last season as Kelly romped to a six-shot win but a neatly assembled 66 had the Newmachar man in a good position with plenty of golf to be played.

“Those were some of the hardest pins I’ve seen,” said McBain as the tournament director enjoyed some early mischief. “They were in some funky places but it was a really good test.”

A canny approach to the 18th and a putt of some 10 feet for an eagle inched him closer to Kelly heading into day two. “Golf has taken a bit of a back seat due to the fact that I’m doing more teaching at Newmachar but I think I’m enjoying it more,” he said. “I still just love playing golf and being in the mix. That’s why you become a pro.”

Neil Fenwick, meanwhile, had been pondering giving up the touring scene until a bumper win in the Carnegie Invitational at Skibo Castle recently had some additional spin-offs.

“I was struggling to afford it but a member there has agreed to sponsor me for two years so I can get out on the MENA Tour and the EuroPro Tour,” said Fenwick, who birdied three of his last five holes in a 67 to sit in a share of third with Chris Currie, Paul McKechnie and Jamie McLeary, the former European Tour player who is making his first appearance in the Scottish championship.

Greig Hutcheon, the double Scottish PGA champion, eagled the last in a 68 and was joined on that mark by last year’s Tartan Tour No 1, Paul O’Hara.