After sampling the high life at Disneyland Paris, Swedish teenager Joakim Lagergren went low on the first day of the Allianz Challenge de France to grab the lead on seven under par.
Lagergen, playing his first full season on the Challenge Tour after turning professional last year, spent Wednesday afternoon riding the theme park’s rollercoasters, then promptly produced some equally thrilling golf in a course record round of 64 on the opening morning of the €150,000 event.
The 19 year old from Stockholm – who has one victory on the Satellite Tour Nordic League to his name – is a relative newcomer to the Challenge Tour, having made only his second appearance at the recent Barclays Kenya Open. But he belied his tender years and inexperience by notching eight birdies and a solitary bogey at a sun-kissed Golf Disneyland, on the outskirts of the French capital.
Lagergren, who went out in the first group of the day, leads by two strokes from Romain Bechu after the Frenchman signed for a round of 66 to take second place.
The Swede said: “Other than the dropped shot on the 13th hole, today was a very good day. I played really solid, hardly missed any fairways or greens and also putted well. The course is a lot of fun, and it suits my game. The fairways are quite narrow in places, especially on the front nine, but if you can drive the ball well you can set up a lot of birdie chances, and luckily I managed to take a few today.
“Picking up shots on the par fives is key, because they’re all reachable in two so if you make par, you almost feel like you’re dropping a shot to the field. It’s been a great couple of days after we went on the rollercoasters yesterday, and hopefully the next two are just as much fun.”
The highlight of Bechu’s round was an eagle at the first, where he holed his bunker shot. The Frenchman added a further five birdies, but gave shots back at the short fourth and the long 14th to drop back to five under par.
He said: “I felt good out on the course today, hit a lot of good shots and made some nice putts. The course is in great shape, and it’s a lot of fun to play. As I’m playing mainly on the Alps Tour this year, I need to do well whenever I get the chance on the Challenge Tour to give myself the best chance to receive invites and get back on the Challenge Tour next season, and luckily for me I managed to do that today.”
Eleven players currently share third place on four under par: Finland’s Antti Ahokas; the English quartet of Daniel Brooks, Matthew Cryer, Matt Evans and Charlie Ford; the French duo of Baptiste Chapellan and Thomas Fournier; Welshman Garry Houston; Norwegian Espen Kofstad; Italian Gregory Molteni; and last, but by no means least, Denmark’s Mark Vibe-Hastrup, who covered the front nine in a stunning 28 shots.