The Canadian duo of Graham DeLaet and Stuart Anderson shot 65 to establish a one stroke lead after round one of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup European Qualifier in Estonia.
The Canadians are one ahead of Welsh pairing of Stephen Dodd and Jamie Donaldson who shot a 66 in Thursday’s opening fourball round at the Estonian Golf and Country Club.
Four teams are tied for third place at after an entertaining opening round that saw the host nation, represented by the Estonian duo of Martin Toom and Mark Suursalu, produce a thrilling 67 to join the Finnish team of Toni Karjalainen and Juha-Pekka Peltomaki, the Portuguese pairing of José-Filipe Lima and Antonió Sobrinho and Austrians Michael A Moser and Christophe Bausek on five under.
Scotland’s David Drysdale and Alastair Forsyth posted a three under 69 to join Iceland and Morocco in a tied for seventh place.
With the top three finishers in Estonia qualifying for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China in November, DeLaet and Anderson, both regulars on the Canadian Tour, were pleased to have made a seven under par start to their campaign.
“We got off to a really good start birdieing four of the first five holes. Six and seven slowed us down a bit with a three putt par followed by a bogey but Stuart birdied the tenth and we had birdie chances on every hole after that. We had a lull in the middle of the round but we finished strong” said DeLaet.
Talking about their tactics for the forthcoming foursomes, it was clear the duo had given some thought to the more challenging format.
DeLaet explained: “We have had three days to look at the course and after the Pro-Am yesterday we decided that Graham would tee off on the odd holes and I would take the even ones. We have a similar game but Graham probably hits it further off the tee than I do.”
“We feel confident in each other and that’s huge. We trust one another and we played well so we will just have to stay aggressive and do our best.”
Estonia’s performance had not gone unnoticed by the Canadian team. Anderson was full of praise for the young duo.
“It’s great that the Estonian team played so well. It’s nice to see them on the leaderboard and it can only be good for golf in Estonia. Hopefully the people of Tallinn will come out and cheer them on tomorrow.”
Wales shot a pair of 33’s to reach their six-under total. Seeing the Estonian Golf and Country Club for the first time today, Dodd had to rely on partner Donaldson’s knowledge of the course having just arrived in Estonia the night before.
“Our objective this week is to get through the qualifier and make it to the World Cup in China,” said Dodd, who won the World Cup for Wales, in partnership with Bradley Dredge, in 2005. “I played two years ago and Omega did a great job with the event. I enjoyed the week and the set up in China was great.”
Speaking after their round Donaldson was pleased with the Welsh duo’s blemish free performance.
He said: “We played pretty good all the way round. We made a few putts and we both played nicely. Doddy would make the par putts and that would leave me with the chance to have a run at the birdie putts.”
The Estonian team of Toom and Suursalu delighted the home nation with their opening round and Suursalu was justifiably proud of their performance.
He said: “We had been trying to go out there and shoot 68 but we managed to do one better. I thought a 68 would put us somewhere in the middle of the field so we are really happy to find ourselves in third place.
“Martin and I have played amateur team competitions together before but this is our first time playing together in a professional tournament. They key to our success today was a good start and a good finish and just making pars in between.”