Thursday, 10 July 2003
Welshman Mark Mouland blazed his way to the top of the leaderboard with a brilliant 65 in his eighth Challenge Tour event of the season at the Open des Volcans Challenge de France – then paid a special tribute to his new putting coach, last week’s Volvo Finnish Open champion Jamie Elson!

The 42 year old credited Elson – 20 years his junior – for his improvement on the greens as he went to six under par and established a one shot lead from New Zealander Gareth Paddison at the 7093 yard par 71 Golf des Volcans in the glorious Auvergne region in southern France.

“I’ve been playing the same for the past three or four weeks but my putting’s been letting me down,” said Mouland.

“There was a bit of an improvement in it today though, and I suppose that’s down to the lesson Jamie Elson gave me two weeks ago which is slightly ironic because he’s old enough to be my son!

“But these young ones are the guys who know what they’re talking about so you’ve got to listen haven’t you?

“I’m delighted with it though, and it feels good to be up there at the top of the leaderboard even though I know better than most that there’s a long way to go after just one day.”

Sweden’s Oskar Bergman, England’s Marcus Higley and Frenchman Benoit Teilleria all shot 67s to lie two shots behind Mouland on four under.

Bergman, who finished 47th on last years Challenge Tour Rankings with €21,149, finished strongly with three birdies on his first appearance at Open des Volcans Challenge de France.

“I’m very happy with 67,” said the Swede. “I had a great finish of three birdies in a row from the 16th in, and feel like I played well.

“I couldn’t hole the putts at the start of the round but they started to drop for me later on. That was my first round here at Golf des Volcans so I’m pleased with it.”

Yet again the Challenge Tour proved itself a multi talented and multi cultural movement with 11 players hailing from England, France, Italy, Morocco, Scotland, Spain and Sweden a further one shot behind Mouland on three under par.

Belgian Didier De Vooght, who is in the ten strong group of players on two under, won himself a brand new Hyundai Getz car with a wonderful hole in one at the 13th.

He said: “I hit a five iron – it was 212 yards from the tee to the pin. I didn’t even see the ball landing on the green, but when I walked up to the green and couldn’t see it I had a feeling it might be in because it felt like the right shot when I hit it.

“I didn’t know there was a car on offer to anyone who holed in one, so that was a nice surprise for me.”

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