PGA European Tour Qualifying School - Final Stage (Getty Images)
Sweden’s Fredrik Henge continued his rehabilitation from a long term back injury with a fine six under par 66 in testing conditions to lead after the first round of the ECCO Tour Championship in Denmark.
Henge missed the whole of last season because of slipped disc sustained whilst go-karting but showed few signs of the problem as he posted eight birdies at Kokkedal Golf Club in Copenhagen to lead a pair of Finns by one stroke.
The 33 year old revealed a new wedge had contributed to a superb short game display, following a week of sold practice back home in Sweden.
“I went back to an old wedge and I’ve been working hard with my coach to improve my short game,” he said. “My putting was also very good today – I think I made five putts between 10 and 15ft.
“I didn’t really expect that score when I teed off. I didn’t feel too good about my game before I started but I played really well. I had some more putts which I was sure were going in but I’m not going to complain with that score.”
Henge, who shared the lead after the first round of the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship on The European Tour last month, is currently lying 124th on the European Challenge Tour Rankings.
He said he was looking for a strong finish to help secure a category for next season, with his best finish so far a 15th place at the Vodafone Challenge in Germany a fortnight ago.
“I’ve still got a problem with my back which means I am not driving very well and meant I didn’t play much at the start of the season,” he said. “I’ve played more lately and out of nine events I’ve only missed the cut once – last week – but I’ve not had many good finishes. I’m desperate for one this week.”
Henge is a shot clear of Finnish pair Antti Ahokas and Roope Kakko who both posted five under par rounds of 67 on a course which has taken a soaking since the weekend.
Ahokas, who won The 103rd Abierto VISA de la Republica in Argentina at the start of the season before slipping to 27th on the Rankings, battled on despite an elbow injury which threatened to curtail his round.
He said: “I wasn’t sure whether I would finish but it warmed up as I went on and a couple of birdies always help to make you feel better! I was 14th last week and I’m looking for a strong finish to get back into the top 20. I played well last week and I’m hoping to keep it going.”