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Friday, 19 March 2010
Gary Clark  (Getty Images)
Gary Clark (Getty Images)

A sensational finish saw Scotland’s David Drysdale leap into a share of the lead with England’s Gary Clark on the opening day of the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne on the European Challenge Tour.

With six holes of his round left to play at the Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André in France, Drysdale – who started on the tenth – trailed Clark by six shots.

But the Edinburgh-born 33 year old made birdies at the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth holes, and added a superb eagle at the seventh to take a share of the lead on five under par.

Two-time Challenge Tour winner Drysdale, who recently finished 15th at the Estoril Open de Portugal on The European Tour, said: “I’m not quite sure where that finish came from, but I’ll certainly take it.

“I’ve been really struggling on the greens recently, but today a few putts dropped for a change. If the weather holds out, I’d expect to see some low scoring over the next few days. Minus 12 won the tournament last time, but I don’t think it’ll be the case again this year.”

Drysdale shares the lead with Clark, who carded six birdies and a bogey en route to a five under par round of 65.

Clarke came into the tournament high on confidence, having recorded top five finishes last month at the MAPFRE Open de Andalucia by Valle Romano on The European Tour and the Tusker Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour.

But the 27 year old feels he is merely getting back into the groove following a three week lay-off.

He said: “I felt a bit rusty today and didn’t play particularly well, but I sunk a few putts which always helps keep the score down. It’s a fantastic course and the weather was very kind to us – so it was a case of making hay while the sun shines, because it’ll be very tough if we get any wind or rain.”

Clark currently leads by one shot from Sweden’s Joakim Haeggman, Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey and France’s Charles-Edouard Russo.

Haeggman rediscovered some of the form which saw him become the first Swede to play in The Ryder Cup in 1993 when he carded a four under par round of 66.

Haeggman, whose recent career has been blighted by a loss of form and fitness, matched the round of his playing partner Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland to take a share of second place.

The Swede is only competing on the Challenge Tour after deciding to give golf “one last try”, having considered quitting after losing his appetite for the game.

But after being reunited with Simon Holmes, who coached him to victory at the 2004 Qatar Masters, Haegmann has fallen back in love with the game.

He said: “In my darkest days, of course I considered quitting the game and doing something else. But I thought I’d give it one more year, and I’m glad I did. That’s the best I’ve played for at least two years. Hopefully I can earn my card on The European Tour and get back to where I was.”

The highlight of his playing partner’s round was an ace on the 15th hole. Hoey, seeking his third Challenge Tour title, recovered from a dropped shot on the opening hole to collect four birdies and that sublime eagle for a four under par round of 66.

The Belfast resident, a former British Amateur Champion, received a pat on the back from Haeggman after he aced the par three 15th.

Hoey, who was a member of the triumphant 2001 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, said: “I thought to myself when I got on to the tee it would be a nice opportunity for a hole-in-one, and so it proved.

“The hole was only 120 yards long, so I hit a sand wedge. It pitched just beyond the flag and spun back into the cup. That capped a really pleasing round, especially since I’d got off to a fairly shaky start.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
1HAEGGMAN, JoakimSWE18-5
2HIGLEY, MarcusENG18-4
T3DAVIS, StuartENG18-2
T3MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-2
T3HÖGBERG, AndreasSWE18-2
T3TADINI, AlessandroITA18-2
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