Sebastien Delagrange shot a course record and his best ever score to par to lead after the first round of the 5th Aa St Omer Open. The Frenchman had an eagle and eight birdies in a 10 under par 63 to lead by three shots.
"I've carded a 63 before but I've never been 10 under," he said. "My previous best was eight under but it was my short game that was the secret today. I used my sand wedge a lot and I kept knocking it so close that I only
needed my putter four times from distance, otherwise it was just for tap-ins."
The 27 year old Parisian trimmed a shot off the course record which was in direct contrast to his previous rounds over the hilly, parkland course. "I've never played that well here, I think my previous best is perhaps 71," he added. "But I never looked like making a bogey. "
He made his score over the five par fives, recording an eagle and four birdies to set a tough target for the rest of the field.
Minutes before Delagrange put his card in, Peter Fowler returned a nine birdie 66 in what is his first Challenge Tour outing of the year. He made a blistering start from the 10th tee, going five under in six holes after opening with three successive birdies.
The Australian World Cup player reached the turn in 30, five under, and added three more birdies coming home. "I hit a lot of good drives and if you do that around here it leaves you with a lot of wedges to the green," he said. "The par fives are not long and I just tried to hit the ball to where I just needed a sand wedge in. I also putted good."
Denmarks Knud Storgaard equalled Fowlers effort, with an eagle and five birdies, while Iain Pyman had seven birdies in a 67. "I didnt hit my irons good but I played the par fives well and chipped close, " he said. "It would have been even better but he fired a four iron second shot into water at the long seventh to drop his only shot.
Joining Pyman on 67 were fellow Englishmen Matthew Blackey and Mark Foster and Italys Frencesco Guermani, while among those on 68 is Englands Chris Gane, who secured his maiden Challenge Tour victory in Austria last week.
Under a cloudless sky and in perfect conditions for scoring, 78 players bettered par while 21 had sub-70 returns.