Mark F Haastrup (Getty Images)
Denmark’s Mark F Haastrup made the perfect start to the new European Challenge Tour season by firing a five under par 67 for a share of the lead with home favourite Diego Vanegas in the Club Colombia Masters presentado por Samsung.
Haastrup returns to Challenge Tour action keen to make an immediate impression having just missed out on the 2008 top 20 and graduation on to The European Tour when he finished 26th in the Rankings.
The 24 year old, who won The Dubliner Challenge in Sweden in 2008, finished tied runner up behind winner Wil Besseling at Country Club de Bogotá last year and showed the course was once again to his liking with seven birdies in a fine opening round.
Haastrup opted to spend the winter honing his game at Georgia State College rather than return to his native Denmark and it seemed to have paid dividends he hit the ground running in the Challenge Tour curtain raiser.
“I was more than happy with that start,” said the 24 year old. “I was actually a bit nervous before going out – first tournament back nerves but I played really well.
“I hit 17 greens and putted really well and got a couple of lucky breaks off trees. I really like this course. I did well here last year. It is pretty tight but not too long so I was taking irons off some tees.
“It was definitely a dream start out there for me. There’s a long way to go but if I can play like that there is no reason I can’t go one better than last year.
“I spent the winter at Georgia State and they let me practice every day there. They are really nice guys and the weather there meant I could work on my game rather than practice indoors in Denmark.
“I missed out on the top 20 to get on the European Tour last season finishing 26th, so that was kind of a disappointment but it was my first year and I’m going to try and do a little better this year”.
Vanegas carded six birdies and just the single bogey in his round of 67, while fellow Colombian Ricardo Ruiz is in a group of three players a shot behind the leaders after four under par rounds of 68.
Italian Edoardo Molinari, the 2007 champion, is among 15 players on three under par along with Northern Ireland’s Gareth Shaw.