Northern Irishman Jonathan Caldwell carded a fantastic seven under par 64 to take a two shot lead in The Princess early on day one.
The 26 year old had four birdies on the front nine and three on the back to lead his countryman and room-mate Gareth Shaw by two shots at Båstad Golf Club in southern Sweden. Three players - Spaniard Carlos Del Moral, Swede Alexander Björk and American Christopher Baker – were three shots off the leader after carding 67s.
“I’m feeling very good and played nicely,” said Caldwell. “Seven birdies and no bogeys is always pleasing. I hit it reasonably close and holed some good putts. I holed one from about 40ft on the ninth but the rest were mostly around 10ft away and solid putts.
“I’ve been playing pretty well the last two or three weeks and had a good finish in the Moroccan Golf Classic, where I finished seventh after a very good third round. I’ve just got to keep the big numbers off the card, which has sometimes been a struggle this year.
“The course is in good shape. I played here last year and it’s a little different this time with the wind blowing in a different direction. I think we’ll see some lower scoring this year.”
Shaw was delighted with his five under par 66 and said the atmosphere in his and Caldwell’s hotel room this evening would be upbeat.
“I didn’t putt that well, which is surprising for a score of 66,” he said. “I birdied the eighth, my penultimate hole, which was nice. I gave myself a lot of chances and it’s a great way to start – I’m very happy. Jonathan and I are sharing a room this week and after his 64 there’ll be some good positive vibes tonight.
“My game’s coming on nicely and I’m starting to see some much better shots in practice which is key for me and gives me a lot of confidence.
“I’ve been working hard with my coach at home and it’s just a question of staying patient. It’s only halfway through the year and I’m a long way down the Challenge Tour Rankings so it’d be nice to finally get up there in contention.”
Del Moral arrived in Sweden hours before he was due to tee off, but started with three consecutive birdies, and only a double bogey at the last prevented him from penetrating further up the leaderboard.
He said: “I arrived at 1am this morning and had an early start at 8.20am so it was a tough start but I began with three straight birdies – it didn’t feel very good but somehow it happened. I had a lot of ups and downs in the round today with many bogeys so hopefully I can have some more pars.
“I didn’t know the golf course before today so it’s turned out great as a practice round. It’s promising for the next three rounds. I’m a little bit disappointed about not concentrating well enough on the 18th, but it’s all good.”
England’s Matthew Mills was six under after 14 holes, but three bogeys in his closing four holes marred his first round.
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