Finland’s Roope Kakko and Mikko Korhonen lead the Omega Mission Hills World Cup European Qualifier by one shot after firing an eight under par 64 in the opening fourball round in Poland.
The Finns lead Canada's Wes Heffernan and Graham DeLaet and the Czech Republic’s Jakub Kucera and Ondrej Lebl, who carded opening 65s to put themselves in joint second place one shot ahead of the Portuguese duo of Tiago Cruz and Ricardo Santos.
With the top-three finishers qualifying for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China in November, Kakko and Korhonen, both regulars on the Challenge Tour, were pleased to have made a solid start to their campaign at the Sierra Golf Club in Poland.
“We played the par threes and par fours well today. Unfortunately we did not score so well on the par fives and to finish with a bogey was a bit disappointing but we have made a good solid start and we are very happy,” said Korhonen.
Looking forward to Friday’s foursomes format, 26 year old Kakko added: “We combined well as a team today. Mikko is very steady and I am more aggressive which works well for the fourball format. The foursomes tomorrow will be a different story. Our tactics will be much more conservative. It’s a tough golf course and it is playing very long with thick rough so it is all about hitting fairways and aiming for the middle of greens.”
Canada’s Wes Heffernan, who is bidding for a second World Cup appearance, and partner Graham DeLaet were of to a quick start when Heffernan birdied the first two holes. Seven consecutive pars followed and DeLaet was beginning to wonder if the bridies had dried up for the day.
“After seven pars in a row on the front nine we were in a bit of a rut but I birdied ten and we then traded birdies to shoot five under on the back nine,” said DeLeat. “I was relieved to make the four on the tenth as I hadn’t contributed much at that stage and I was starting to feel the pressure.”
He added: “We are happy with our start. It was fun out there and we are glad that we didn’t shoot ourselves out of it. “
Playing in the last group, the Czech Republic duo of Jakub Kucera and Ondrej Lebl dovetailed well to shoot a solid 65. Lebl commented: “Every time I missed Jakub made the shot and every time he missed, I was able to make a shot. We enjoyed playing the fourball format, our playing partners were great guys and we had a lot of fun out there.”
Jakub added: “I was really happy with the way I played up until the 13th hole but then we were told we were behind time and had to hurry up and was rushing after that and hit some bad shots. But we held it together so we are happy”.
Kucera and Lebl are quietly optimistic about their chances of making it all the way to China. The key will be keeping the ball on the short grass on the challenging Sierra Golf Course layout.
For Portugal, the highlight of their first round 66 was an eagle on the par 4 13th hole. Tiago Cruz later described the shot that set up the eagle putt. “I hit a good drive just to the right of the 13th flag and the wind brought it closer to the hole. The ball settled about five meters from the hole and I made the eagle putt.”
Belgium also made eagle on 13 with Laurent Richard finding the bottom of the cup in two.
First Round Scores
64 – Finland (Roope KAKKO / Mikko KORHONEN)
65 – Canada (Graham DELAET / Wes HEFFERNAN), Czech Republic (Jakub KUCERA / Onrej LEBL)
66 – Portugal (Tiago CRUZ / Ricardo SANTOS)
67 – Belgium (Gerald GRESSE / Laurent RICHARD)
68 – Switzerland (André BOSSERT / Martin ROMINGER)
71 – Iceland (Heidar BRAGASON / Bjorgvin SIGURGERGSSON)
72 – Norway (Paul NILBRINK / Kristoffer REE), Poland (Jakub OSSOWSKI / Marcin STELMASIAK), Slovenia (Janez GRILC / Damjan MURGELJ)
75 – Israel (Itamar COHEN / Oren GERI)
76 – Greece (George DIAKOU / Themis GINIS)
79 – Croatia (Darko LJUBANOVIC / Miro RAIC)
Format: Fourball format for the first and third rounds, Foursomes (alternate shot) for the Second And final founds.