Thursday, 03 May 2001
England’s Gary Clark carded an eight-under-par 63, the lowest score of his career, to lead after the first round of the Credit Suisse Private Banking Open at Ascona in Switzerland.

The 30-year-old ran in an eagle and seven birdies to finish a shot clear of Frenchman Pascal Edmond and two ahead of Ashley Roestoff from South Africa, Italy's Gianluca Baruffaldi and West Countryman Stuart Little.

But Clark finished an angry man after dropping his only shot at the ninth, his final hole. "I missed from four feet which left a nasty taste," he said.

After a 75 minute delay for rain in the morning, Clark made the most of the improving conditions after lunch. He went out in 30 from the 10th tee with five birdies in six holes from the 11th and so accurate was his peppering of the pins that his longest putt was 10 feet.

It is a great start for Clark, who is still seeking his maiden Challenge Tour victory despite some near misses. Last week he was near the top of the leaderboard going in to the final round in Italy but finished joint eighth after a closing 74.

Edmond, another afternoon starter, also carded an eagle and seven birdies, but he stumbled twice, dropping shot at the eighth and 13th to equal his lowest Challenge Tour return.

Roestoff, who left Italy disappointed after being disqualified for signing for a wrong score in the final round, bounced back in style. A morning starter, he kept a bogey off his card while collecting six birdies in a 65, which led the field for a while.

He was later joined by Baruffaldi, who had an eagle and six birdies in his 65, while Stuart Little, who missed out in Italy last week, finishing joint second, also closed six under with an eagle and six birdies. It was the second successive week that Little has started with 65, but he double-bogeyed the third otherwise he would have joined Clark at the top.

Scotland's Greig Hutcheon, seeking a change of fortune after losing his tour card last autumn, is joint sixth on 66 alongside Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Lee James from England.

Top-ranked Andrew Sherborne, the winner last week in Italy, began with a 69 for joint 32nd place on a day when 63 of the 156-strong field bettered par.


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