Pauli Hughes, born in Finland but attached to Hankley Common in Surrey, England, as touring professional, enjoyed a successful return to his native country by breaking the course record in the first round of the Talma Finnish Challenge at Golf Talma.
Hughes, 29, equalled his lowest score on the Challenge Tour by shooting a nine under par 63 to establish a one stroke lead over England’s Lee James, the current leader of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
The Hindhead-based Finn, who also shot a 63 in the 1998 Osmanli Bankasi Klassis Turkish Open, missed the cut in the Talma Finnish Challenge 12 months ago but is unlikely to suffer than fate again after his flawless nine birdie round.
Starting at the tenth, Hughes birdied three of his first four holes to reach the turn in 33. However he reserved the real fireworks for his second nine where, despite failing to birdie the par five first, he then reeled off six birdies in the next holes to race home in 30.
James, who heads the Rankings by €28,000 after two victories this season, was equally impressive in his round which contained eight birdies while England’s Matthew Blackey and South African Hennie Otto both produced bogey free 65s with seven birdies which meant that none of the top four players had dropped a single stroke to par on their opening rounds.