Local knowledge paid handsome dividends for Nicolas Beaufils and Christophe Pottier in the opening round of the Challenge Total Fina Elf at Joyenval. Beaufils carded a seven under par 65 to share the lead with Italy’s Gianluca Baruffaldi, while Pottier is just a shot further back.
Beaufils, who comes from Paris, carded nine birdies in his 65 for his lowest ever Challenge Tour return. The 30 year old, who finished second in the French National Championship last year, set the target with Baruffaldi matched with seven birdies after going out in 31.
Pottier, another local man, knows the Joyenval course well. “I play here often during the winter months,” he said.
Joining Pottier on 66 is Swiss Andre Bossert, who has suddenly found his putting form after a disappointing six weeks. “”I found something last week and it’s just that I have to relax more over the putts,” he said. “Now the putts are dropping and apart from one bogey today when I hit the water on the fourth, it was pretty good.”
On a day of ultra low scoring in humid conditions, 79 players bettered par and 11 of them are grouped on 67 including four Englishmen, three Swedes and two Spaniards.
Sebastien Delagrange, another local man and back from a two-week break, is looking to strengthen his position as ranking leader. He began with 69, which is joint 29th, while second placed Andrew Sherborne and fellow Englishman Mark Foster, in second and third positions, are among a large group on 68.