Austria’s Thomas Kogler and Italy’s Massimo Scarpa – two men at opposite ends of the European Challenge Tour spectrum – share the lead after round one of the Texbond Open at Gardagolf Country Club.
Kogler represents the Challenge Tour’s new generation. The 24 year old has played mostly on the Third Level Alps Tour since helping his native Austria to a fifth place finish in the 2002 Eisenhower trophy, and is now looking to continue his development on the Challenge Tour as he makes his way in the professional ranks.
Scarpa, on the other hand, is one of the most experienced players on Tour. The 34 year old has won three Challenge Tour titles as well as winning on The European Tour, and is looking to win back his European Tour card by virtue of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
Both players are looking to make the most of the opportunity offered to them by the Challenge Tour, and they went the right way about doing so at the spectacular Gardagolf Country Club – opening the tournament with a pair of six under par 66s.
Kogler, who began his round at the tenth, was first in with his 66, and he credited his fantastic round to his sports psychologist and caddie for the week, Hermine Winter Schlager, the women who kept his mind in focus at a crucial stage of the first round.
“I was very nervous on the 15th because I had gone to six under after 12 holes and quite a crowd had started to follow me because I was playing so well,” explained Kogler. “I made a bogey at my 15th hole, but that was when Hermine spoke to me and helped me bring everything together.
“After that I started to play very well again and managed to pick up another birdie to finish on six under for the day. I now have to keep going for the next three rounds and it is pleasing for me to be at the top of the leaderboard because being in the lead at a tournament always gives me extra confidence.”
Scarpa – like Kogler – put together seven birdies and a single bogey to reach the leaderboard’s summit, and afterwards credited his wonderful short game for taking him into a tie for the lead.
“I played alright today – the difference today was in my short game which was exceptional,” said Scarpa, who played in the 60th Italian Open Telecom Italia on The European Tour at Gardagolf last season.
“I had only 23 or 24 putts for the round and that is the reason why I was able to score so well. I like the course here at Gardagolf. It is one of the best in Italy and I have played here a few times before so I know it quite well. It is a great venue and the setting and facilities available to the players are fantastic.”
Scarpa’s compatriot, Massimo Florioli, fired a five under par 67 to join Henrik Nystrom of Sweden, England’s Shaun P Webster and Peter Whiteford of Scotland in a tie for third place – just one shot behind the tournaments' current top two.