Taco Remkes signalled a welcome return to form by notching four early birdies before the heavens opened and forced the abandonment of the opening day’s play at the SWALEC Wales Challenge.
Remkes finished third in the Challenge Tour Rankings behind England’s David Horsey two years ago, but since then a miserable run of results – allied to a double hernia operation – have seen the Dutchman rather lose his way.
On The European Tour last year Remkes, who captured three Challenge Tour titles in 2008, endured a torrid time, finishing 195th in The Race to Dubai after missing 12 consecutive cuts from June to October, and failing to secure a top ten finish all season.
The 25 year old from Amsterdam admits he suffered a crisis of confidence on the back of his wretched run of results and carried that form into this season, missing ten cuts out of 15.
But four birdies in his opening five holes in benign early morning conditions at the Vale Hotel, Golf & Spa Resort near Cardiff, Wales, enabled him to grab the lead in the very early stages of the €150,000 event.
Remkes said: “I was lucky with my early tee time, because for the first six holes we had pretty decent weather, so I took advantage of that with four early birdies. Then when it started raining it just got worse and worse, so I was pretty glad I managed to hold it together and not drop any shots.
“When I won two years ago in Scotland the rain was probably as bad, if not worse, so hopefully that’s a good sign. In these kind of conditions the key is to stay patient and not get annoyed, and that’s easier to do when you’re playing well. The most difficult thing is just to try to keep yourself and your clubs dry – without a caddy to carry your bag and hold your umbrella, you need about ten hands!
“But I’m just happy to be playing a little better, because I’ve been really struggling with my game over the last 18 months. The double hernia obviously didn’t help, but I’d been struggling even before that. Last year it was getting harder and harder every week to keep my motivation and confidence levels up.
“I’ve tried everything, including changing from the belly putter to the short putter and back to the belly again. I’ve kept trying and working hard, and hopefully now it’s starting to turn around for me. It’s only one day, but we’re moving in the right direction again.”
Of his fellow early starters, it was the Scandinavian duo of Andreas Högberg and Marius Thorp who coped best with the conditions, with both men sitting in a tie for second place on three under par.
Like Remkes Thorp, who has completed 15 holes, managed to keep any bogeys off his card, picking up shots at the fifth, 11th and 12th holes.
Högberg’s 12 holes was a more mixed affair, with five birdies interspersed with bogeys at the seventh and ninth holes.
The morning starters will resume their rounds at 7.30am on Thursday morning, weather permitting, with the ‘afternoon’ groups scheduled to start their rounds an hour later.