Mark F Haastrup and Dodge Kemmer flew out of the blocks and into the early clubhouse lead at the European Challenge Tour’s Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda.
The Dane and the American both took full advantage of the pristine putting surfaces at the Jacques Lemans Golf Club to post opening scores of six under par 65 to share a one stroke lead over Frenchman Edouard Dubois, Ireland’s Peter O’Keefe and Englishman Billy Hemstock at the halfway stage of round one.
Kemmer was the first of the leaders to reach the clubhouse, and the Stamford University graduate, was pleased to become the latest American player to make an impression on the Challenge Tour, following the meteoric rise of his countryman Brooks Koepka, who secured automatic promotion to The European Tour after his third victory of the season at the Scottish Hydro Challenge.
“It was pretty solid out there today,” said Kemmer. “The greens are so pure here and that just gives you a lot of belief that if you hit the putts on the right lines then you are going to make a few of them.
“That was kind of the story of the day for me. I made a lot of mid-range putts from around 15 feet and when you make a few of those then it is always going to be the difference between an average day and a good one.”
Haastrup, meanwhile, was happy to get off to a fast start having endured a frustrating season so far.
“The form just hasn’t been there to be honest,” said the Dane, “so to get off to a good start today is really pleasing. I actually didn’t feel great on the first nine holes but managed to make a few birdies. Then on the back nine I started to feel more comfortable off the tee, but then my wedge play started to let me down.
“It was kind of one of those days, but if I look back at the round overall then I am pleased with how I have started because you really have to get on the leaderboard early at Challenge Tour events because the standard is so high now that even level par rounds mean you go backwards.
“You have to get off to a fast start if you want to have a chance so it is great to play myself into contention so early.”