Englishman Sam Walker fired a superb seven under par 63 in the first round of the ALLIANZ Côtes d’Armor Open Bretagne to share the lead with Spaniard Manuel Quiros.
Taking advantage of the calm conditions at the Golf Blue Green Pléneuf Val-André and the absence of the strong winds which made life difficult in practice rounds earlier this week, Walker had a sparkling second nine with five birdies, having reached the turn in two under.
Earlier in the day, Quiros had set the club house lead with a 63 which included seven birdies and an eagle. His compatriot Jorge Campillo was a shot behind at six under, alongside Frenchman Anthony Grenier, Dutchman Floris De Vries and Florian Praegant of Austria.
“I just played nice and solid and holed almost every putt,” said Walker. “I hit it very close and holed the putts, it was that simple. I had a little bit of luck when I chipped in from the rough for a birdie four on the seventh.
“Tomorrow I’ll just go out and try to do the same: hit it and chase it.”
Quiros said: “There’s no wind today so it was easier. I hit very well with my driver and from the fairway and I had a lot of chances to make birdies. The greens are difficult but I had some luck with the putter. I like the course. I’m very happy here and enjoying myself this week.”
Of his eagle at the spectacular par five 11th, which drops steeply from the tee to the fairway and is lined by the beach on the left, Quiros added: “I hit a good drive and a seven iron to four meters and then holed the putt. It was a perfect hole.”
Campillo, like Quiros, was among the early starters and, starting from the tenth, fired seven birdies – three of which came in the last four holes – in his 64.
“I think I only missed two greens and even then it was on the fringe,” said Campillo. “It felt like I couldn’t miss a shot today. The course is playing much easier than the practice round because it’s not windy. There are plenty of birdie chances out there.”
Hopes for a home winner were boosted by the impressive form of Grenier, who was left to rue a triple bogey seven at the 14th which marred his otherwise flawless card.
“It was a very good day for me and I putted extremely well,” he said. “I only made one mistake the whole round and unfortunately that resulted in a triple bogey, but that’s just one of those things. It’s early days yet and I’m just going to try and keep this going. But it would be great to win in my own country.”
Praegent continued the fine form which has yielded finishes of tied tenth and tied 11th on the Challenge Tour this season.
He said: “I played really well with a solid long game and some good putting. I holed a couple of long putts which is always helpful. I only made two bad shots where I missed the green, but the rest was great. It’s an easy game when you play like that!
“We’ll see how it is tomorrow as it is forecast to be windy. But I’ve put myself in a perfect position and hopefully I’ll stay up there for three more days.”
De Vries shrugged off a disappointing start to be well placed after the first round, and said: “I drove the green at the short par four tenth and landed it about ten feet to the left of the green, but then I duffed my chip and ended up with a bogey. That was annoying because in my mind I had a chance for eagle on my first hole and at least a birdie, but I ended up dropping a shot.
“But apart from that I played really well, holed some good putts and was very happy with the round.”