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Friday, 19 March 2010
John Morgan, the local man, became the local hero after carding a six-under-par 66 in the opening round of the Charles Church Challenge Tour Championship at Bowood in Wiltshire.

The former England international from Portishead near Bristol, around 30 miles from Bowood, leads by a stroke from Ireland's Gary Murphy and by two from the rest of the field.

It was a case of horses for courses as Morgan knows the 7,315 yard Bowood course like the back of his hand. "I've played here many times in junior and county golf but it was playing tough today," he said.

Morgan, out in the third match off the first tee, reached the turn in 31 after running in five successive birdies from the third. He added another at the tenth but double-bogeyed the short 12th after firing his tee shot into a hazard and taking a penalty drop.

However, he redeemed himself at the par four 14th when he holed a wedge shot from 85 yards for an eagle two.

"I had a lesson from my coach George Ryall yesterday and I'm playing well," Morgan added. "I took my chances when I had them but the pins were in some tricky places.

"I've never seen this course in better condition. The fairways are immaculate and the greens are rolling really well. I also had great support from the members at my club at Clevedon."

Morgan is in a rich vein of form. This is only his eighth Challenge Tour event but he is yet to miss a cut and has had two top ten finishes.

Murphy, out in the afternoon, didn't drop a shot as he ran in five birdies in his 67. "I'm usually brutal in first rounds," he said, "but I didn't have a bogey, no three putts and I didn't lose a couple of balls like I usually do. I played really well but I didn't hole any putts.

"I had a lot of chances but I took 32 putts overall, but I'll take it."

Four players are bracketed on 68, England’s David Close, Simon Hurd and Denny Lucas, and Hennie Otto from South Africa.

Close, who covered each nine in 34, has only made one cut in five Europro Tour events this year and had never seen the Bowood course before. But he dropped only one shot and found five birdies.

Hurd kept a bogey off his card as he collected four birdies, while Lucas also had five birdies, coming home in 32. “I had eight birdies in yesterday’s pro-am so I’m showing a bit of form,” he said.

Otto put his success down to a new Odyssey putter, which he bought last week. “It is similar to my old one but this is a blade type,” he said as he collected six birdies.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
T1GEALL, David JENG18-10
T1MORGAN, John EENG18-10
3BLACKEY, MatthewENG18-9
T4LAWRIE, PeterIRL18-8
T4LUCQUIN, Jean-FrançoisFRA18-8
T4SHERBORNE, AndrewENG18-8
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