A glorious opening round of seven under par 64 which more than matched the Colombian sunshine, gave Argentina’s Francisco Ojeda a three shot lead after the first round of the Abierto Internacional de Golf ‘II Copa Antioquia’ – the curtain-raising event on the 2010 European Challenge Tour.
The 30 year old finished his round at noon, but his pole position was never in jeopardy for the remainder of the day. Come the end of play at Club Deportivo El Rodeo in Medellin, Ojeda’s nearest challengers were the home nation’s David Vanegas, a 23 year old from the host club, and the English duo of Robert Dinwiddie and Marcus Higley, who each posted 67s.
A professional since 2000, Ojeda is starting his third season on the Tour de las Americas who, along with the Challenge Tour and the Canadian Tour, are co-sanctioning the US$220,000 tournament.
Despite his best career finish being a tie for fourth place in the 2009 Abierto de Bucaramanga, the talented Argentine admitted he felt comfortable playing the 6,792-yard par-71 Club Deportivo El Rodeo course in a tournament where he claimed a share of 18th place last season.
His statistics certainly bore that claim out on a day where he only missed two fairways and one green and needed only 28 putts in his 64.
Ojeda’s road to the summit of round one began with consecutive birdies at the first and second holes. There then followed a run of nine par figures in a row before his round truly ignited in the middle of the back nine where he notched five birdies in the six holes between the 12th and 17th.
“I putted well today,” said Ojeda. “I also stayed patient when the ball didn’t drop and because of that, the birdies seemed to come to me. My putting hasn’t been consistent over the past three years, but I have worked on it a lot lately, making an emphasis on the mental part. We’ll see how it goes from here.”
Leading the chase, Robert Dinwiddie had a flawless day with four birdies and no dropped shots in his 67 while fellow countryman Marcus Higley did all his good work on the outward half of the Medellin venue with five birdies between the second and eighth holes; his only departure from par on the inward half being a bogey five at the 15th.
The third man in a share of second place, Colombia’s David Vanegas, like Higley, dropped a shot at the 15th, but undid the damage with five birdies between the first and 12th holes.
One shot behind the trio in second place was a group of ten players who carded opening 68s including defending champion Peter Gustafsson who was delighted to be finally reunited with his golf clubs which had only arrived from Madrid late on Tuesday night.
The 33 year old Swede, who used the victory 12 months ago as a springboard to go on to claim the overall Tour de las Americas Order of Merit title, understandably took a time to get into the rhythm of the round, reaching the turn in level par 36, before notching three birdies without loss on the way home.
“I felt pretty good today,” he said. “My day started a little slowly, but then I played extremely well over the final eight holes. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
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