England’s Paul Streeter produced an excellent run of five birdies in nine holes to move into a one shot lead from Wales’s own Kyron Sullivan at the first round of the European Challenge Tour’s FIRSTPLUS Wales Challenge, which saw some incredible golf played at the Vale Hotel and Spa Resort as Sullivan and his countryman, David Price, both holed five iron approaches to give the home crowds a thrilling start to the tournament.
Price’s wonder strike came as he aced the par three third hole, while Sullivan eagled the par four sixth with his perfect five iron. The Welsh pair were not the only ones to hole from distance, with Spain’s Carl Suneson scoring an eagle two at the par four tenth by holing his lob wedge approach from 98 yards.
Price was making his professional debut in the first round and managed to steal the local limelight from Sullivan and Welsh Number One Stephen Dodd, who opened with a disappointing three over par 76. Price started his round on the back nine and endured a roller coaster professional debut, racking up a triple bogey eight on the second to move to seven over par after 11 holes.
But he sparked a brilliant recovery moments later by acing the third hole with a brilliant five iron from 219 yards, then birdieing the fifth before holing his pitching wedge approach from 110 yards at the par five eighth to post an extraordinary 75. That put him one stroke ahead of Dodd, who currently lies sixth on The European Tour’s Order of Merit.
Sullivan, on the other hand, is leading the Welsh assault after a first round of three under par 70 left the 28 year old just one shot behind Streeter. Like Price, Sullivan holed a sensational five iron for an eagle at the sixth, which he added to his five birdies, ten pars and four bogeys en route to his first round 70.
“I’m happy with that start,” said Sullivan. “I would love to do well this week with the tournament being at home, it would be great if we could have a Welsh winner here. I played quite well today and it was nice to hole the five iron for eagle at the sixth, which is the first time I have done that.
“We’ll just try and go out and do the same tomorrow. I think if I could get four 70s on the board I won’t be too far away from winning on Sunday because this is a tough course. I know this course fairly well because I use the practice facilities in the winter. I haven’t played the course that often but I am familiar with it which is always a help.
“The best thing about this week is the fact that you can go home and sleep in your own bed every night, which is something that you don’t get to do in this job too often!”
Streeter, who began his round at the tenth hole the Vale Hotel and Spa Resort, went to the turn in one over par 37 before his outstanding charge back to the clubhouse saw him post the leading first round score of four under par 69.
The 38 year old leads Sullivan by a single shot, with nine players in a tie for third place on one under.
Streeter said: “I played very well today but didn’t realise that I was in the lead until I finished the round. It was strange in that sense because I was concentrating on catching up on my playing partners who had both made quick starts to their rounds and then all of a sudden I had five birdies on the front nine and I was leading on four under.
“It’s a good start and a good round on what is a really tough course. I think that we are starting to see a lot more tough courses out on the Challenge Tour which is what I think most of the players would prefer to be playing on because that is all that you play on The European Tour – there are no easy courses when you step up to that level.”