A stunning run of eight birdies and a hole-in-one in the first 12 holes earned Sweden’s Martin Erlandsson a three stroke lead after the first round of the Izki Challenge de España at Izki Golf, Urturi, Vittoria.
The 29 year old romped to the top of the leaderboard with a staggering display before concluding his round with six pars for an opening 64, eight under par.
Erlandsson exchanged birdies at the first and third holes with bogeys on the second and fourth before starting an extraordinary run. A birdie at the fifth was flowed by his first hole-in-one on the Challenge Tour, acing the 180 yard sixth hole with a seven iron. That eagle spurred him on further as he proceeded to convert five more birdies over the next six holes.
“It was a very nice day, a bit up and down at the start because I was a bit tense,” said Erlandsson. “I hadn’t played for four weeks and really wanted a good start so was a little tense but had a bit of luck on the sixth with the hole-in-one. But the putting was the key as I holed long birdie putts after that.”
Erlandsson has twice finished runner-up on the Challenge Tour, in the 1997 Toyota PGA Championship and more recently in the 2000 NCC Open, and won twice on the Telia Tour, but has yet to record his maiden Challenge Tour victory. He has teamed up with a mental coach Torsten Hanson at home in Malmo and the work is paying dividends having recorded two top tens already this season.
He leads by three from Italy’s Marco Soffietti with Australian Scott Gardiner and Hennie Otto of South Africa a further shot adrift, Otto shooting a 68 despite taking a double bogey seven on the eighth hole.