The Golf International Open de Toulouse, the penultimate event of the 2006 European Challenge Tour season, got off to an intriguing start at the Golf de Toulouse-Seilh in Southern France, with four players tied for first place and a further 45 players within four strokes of the Swedes Klas Eriksson and Johan Sköld, Frenchman Anthony Grenier, England’s Lee S James.
Of the four leaders, the performances of Eriksson and James were the most admirable given the circumstances in which they posted their respective opening scores of five under par 67.
Eriksson has not swung a golf club in over five weeks having being at home in Sweden awaiting the birth of his second child. His wife, Marina, gave birth to their as yet unnamed baby son at 12pm on Sunday afternoon and the Swede arrived in Toulouse on Wednesday afternoon to play in the tournament.
With the least amount of preparation, Eriksson put in an excellent, if at times wayward, opening that included two eagles and a double bogey as he joined that four way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
James managed to match that score despite suffering from a terrible bout of influenza, which has come at the worst possible time of the season as the Englishman is trying to regain his place on The European Tour via the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
Despite his aches and pains and coughs and sniffles, the Englishman played some excellent stuff to put together six birdies and just a single bogey en route to is own 67.
It was Grenier’s experience of the Golf de Toulouse-Seilh helped him onto the share of the lead. The Frenchman lives in nearby Biarritz and knew the course form his days as an amateur.
He started his opening round putting like an amateur, with 19 strokes of the short stick on his front nine, but he rectified that on his way back to the clubhouse, using his local knowledge to need just 12 putts on the back nine and haul himself into a share of the lead.
Sköld matched James’s effort of six birdies and one bogey to complete the quartet of leaders, with nine players lying just one stroke behind them.