Carlos del Moral Spain and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay produced a pair of seven under par 65s to take the first round lead of the Vodafone Challenge at the G&CC An der Elfrather Mühle.
Both men kept mistakes to a minimum as they shot to the top of the leaderboard, two strokes clear of another Scotsman, George Murray, with four players – including the 20 year old German amateur Stephan Gross – in a tie for fourth place on four under.
Indeed, del Moral and Ramsay had strikingly similar cards that included one bad hole and 17 very good ones. Del Moral’s sole aberration came on the par five fourth, where poor club selection from the tee led the 22 year old to make a double bogey seven.
Ramsay’s single dropped shot – on the par three 14th – could not dampen an otherwise excellent day’s work.
The former US Amateur Champion, who is looking for his maiden professional success in Germany this week, is playi9ng with a new putter in the bag and was delighted with how he performed on the greens.
“I kept my game steady today and hit a lot of greens, which gave me a lot of chances,” said Ramsay. I hit every green in regulation or better on my back nine today.
“I changed my putter after the last tournament and I am happy that the new one is working so well. I I birdied 11, 13, 15 and 16 with a bogey on 14, and then after a birdie on the fifth I was able to make three birdies in a row from the seventh.
“It could have been better out there today – I had a few other birdie chances and if I can make a few more of them over the next three days then I will have a chance to win the tournament.”
Del Moral is no stranger to success on the Challenge Tour, having won the 2006 Texbond Open. The Spaniard has recently linked up with a sports psychologist and is confident that he can overcome the mental obstacles that so often block the paths of golf’s most talented players.
“I hit the ball really well today, especially on the first nine holes. I screwed up on the fourth because that is very much a no driver hole, but I am happy with the round overall – I just have to keep it going for another three days.”
If Gross can keep it going over the next three days, he could become on the third player in Challenge Tour history (after Sweden’s Eric Carlberg and Finland’s Roope Kakko ) to win as an amateur.
The young amateur is certainly not lacking in confidence.
He said: “I feel confident after having some good results during the past weeks, including the German Championship last week in Berlin. My game is really good this year and I am happy about my scores also.”
|T2||GROSS JR, Stephan||GER||18||-15|
|T5||ARRUTI, Jesus Maria||ESP||18||-11|