Thursday, 10 August 2000
Sweden's Pehr Magnebrant equalled his lowest Challenge Tour score with a 65 to lead after the first round of the Finnish Masters in Helsinki. He is two shots clear of another Swede, Paul Nilbrink and England's Graeme Storm on a day when 54 players beat par.

Magnebrant's previous 65 came in the Open dei Tessali two years ago but with a par of 71 it was only six under. "I had a lot more chances today," he said, "I could have shot 62."

But having missed the cut in this event last year, he was happy with his efforts at the Masters club, as was Nilbrink, who has a liking for Helsinki. A year ago he won the Volvo Finnish Open a few miles away at Espoo but missed the cut in this event last

"I missed my one last year so I wanted to do well this time," he said after collecting six birdies. "I like it in Finland and my putting was the key today. I have changed my set up slightly and it feels much more comfortable."

Storm also put his success down to putting. He ran in seven birdies, five in a back nine of 31 and declared: "I've been playing well for the past two weeks but today I holed a few putts."

Five players are grouped on 68, another Swede, Johan Rystrom who admitted: " I didn't play well especially on the front nine. I was almost in tears because I couldn't hit the ball. I was all over the place and very pleased to be level at the turn. But on the back nine I putted like God. I holed twice from 30 feet for birdies."

Also on 68 is Wolfgang Huget from Germany, another with seven birdies, South African Trevor Immelman, Robert Jan Derksen, from Holland, and last week's BMW Russian Open winner Marco Bernardini.

Order of Merit leader David Higgins from Ireland is on level par 72, three behind second-placed Swede, Henrik Stenson.

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