Sweden’s Björn Pettersson and Pedro Martinez of Paraguay shared the lead after the first round of the American Express Los Encinos Open at the Los Encinos Golf Club, Toluca, Mexico, the joint-sanctioned event between the European Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas.
The duo both carded five under par 67s on the 7103 yard course situated an hour from Mexico City - Martinez helped by a hole in one at the 186 yard sixth hole with a splendidly struck seven iron - to take a one shot lead over the field.
Pettersson’s day was flawless, carding five birdies in total while Martinez’s day was a little more adventurous, five birdies and two bogeys added to his hole-in-one. Indeed, the 39 year old Paraguayan led the tournament on his own coming to his final hole, the par five ninth, but a misjudgement on his third shot led to him overshooting the green on his way to a bogey six.
"In the past few events I've been getting off to slow starts, one-over, even, and then spending the rest of the week playing catch-up, so I’m delighted with this round,” said Martinez, who has won twenty-five international titles around Latin America in seventeen years as a professional.
"This was good, solid striking. I made a bunch of chances, hitting the ball close, but made very few of the four to six footers that would have turned this into a great round. I had a hole-in-one, I'm nicely positioned, so what I take from today is the confidence of striking the ball well."
Pettersson, who finished 74th on the Challenge Tour Rankings in both 2000 and 2001, said: “I got off to a good start, a birdie at the first and another at the fourth. I hit a lot of greens, sixteen I think, and my putting was very steady.”
Another performance of note on the opening day came from Argentina’s Sebastian Fernandez - winner of the first event on the 2003 Challenge Tour, the Costa Rica Open presented by Credomatic MasterCard – who carded a three under par 69.
“That puts me just exactly where I like to be on the first day,” he said. “I struck the ball very well, the only disappointment was only managing one birdie on the par fives, which are easily reachable in two.”
Daniel Vancsik, winner of last week’s Telefonica Centro America Abierto de Guatemala on the Challenge Tour, carded six birdies in his one under par 71, to finish one stroke ahead of Juan Pablo Abbate, the man he beat in last weekend’s play-off at the Club Hacienda Nueva.