England’s Denny Lucas put the pressure of playing for a place on The European Tour to one side at the European Challenge Tour’s Open de Toulouse to fire a sparkling opening round of seven under par 65 to move into a two shot lead at the Golf de Palmola.
With just three events remaining on the Challenge Tour Schedule, Lucas is just three places outside of the all important top 20 places on the Challenge Tour Rankings, but was the most relaxed man in Toulouse as he constructed his excellent opening round.
But for a bogey on the last, the 28 year old would have finished three ahead of the chasing pack, but other than that dropped shot he produced some flawless golf in the south of France.
Lucas leads his fellow countryman Matthew Morris, Jan- Are Larsen of Norway, Paul Nilbrink of Sweden and the Argentine Andres Romero by two strokes, with Germany’s Kariem Baraka, French Amateur Sebastien Clement, England’s Ross Fisher and Sweden’s Steven Jeppesen a further shot back.
Challenge Tour Number One Andrew Butterfield of England leads a four strong group of players on three under, but it was Lucas who came out on top on day one of this crucial event.
“The bogey on the last was a little bit disappointing,” said Lucas, “but I would have taken 65 at the start of the day and would definitely take another three of those this week.
“This would be a great time of the season to get a win because I am 23rd on the Rankings just now and we only have this week and another two events left of the season. A victory would be unbelievable now, because it would guarantee me a place in Tenerife next week where the money on offer is massive for the Challenge Tour players.
“If I can win here I think I would be guaranteed a place in the top 20 of the Rankings. I don’t know if it would get me into the top ten, which is where we all want to be, but it would certainly take me closer.”
Lucas’s first round performance was all the more remarkable considering the fact that – along with many of his fellow Challenge Tour Member in the Open de Toulouse field – has just returned from the Kazakhstan Open, and as a result is still suffering the effects of a ten hour trip home that included a six hour time difference.
“There were a few of the guys yawning their way round the course today because of the jet lag,” he continued. “I don’t feel as though I have fully recovered from the journey home from Kazakhstan yet – especially because flew home through the night, but we don’t really have time to think about that just now. We’ll worry about tiredness after the Grand Final in a few weeks time.”