Englishman Robert Coles set the early pace on the first day of the Trophée du Golf de Genève, carding a stunning eight under par 64 to take a one shot clubhouse lead.
Coles, who finished tied for fifth at last week’s SK Golf Challenge in Finland, carded four birdies on each nine to finish ahead of German Florian Fritsch, whose seven under 65 was marred by a bogey at the last, his only dropped shot of the day. It undid the good work from the previous hole, where he fired an eagle on the 510-yard par five eighth, although with six birdies from the preceding 16 holes he looks in fine fettle.
Last week’s Challenge Tour champion Nicolas Colsaerts was also making promising inroads, seven birdies and a bogey leaving him six under after 15 holes, but Rankings leader Edoardo Molinari had to settle for a two under par 70, as did the man he overhauled for top spot two weeks ago, Andrew Butterfield.
Austrian Florian Praegant was four shots off Coles’ lead after a 68 and Englishman Lee James was another shot back after posting a 69 on the 6,727-yard course a few kilometres from the shores of Lake Geneva.
Coles admitted to being a little taken aback by his low score, having struggled on the course the last time he played it.
“I’ve never done any good here so it was quite a surprise,” he said. “I’ve been playing well so I knew I’d play okay but I didn’t think it would suit me that well here. I’ve played this course once before and struggled. You know where you have done well in the past and where you haven’t but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t do well.
“I’m very pleased with eight under. I struggled a bit on the second. I came up short of the green and had to make a good up and down but from then on it was okay. I putted well from short range and I holed a putt from about 20ft on the ninth.”
Coles needs one more Challenge Tour victory to gain automatic exemption on The European Tour for the rest of this season and next, having already had two wins this year, at the MOROCCAN CLASSIC by BANQUE POPULAIRE and the Challenge of Ireland presented by Moyvalley.
He added: “Everyone here is trying to win and I’m no different, but I would be lying if I said I don’t think about it.”