Florian Fritsch may have stolen the headlines with a superb round of 64, but two local amateurs also made names for themselves on the opening day of the Norwegian Challenge.
In last week’s National Championship, 16 year old Viktor Hovland pipped Kristian K Johannessen to first prize, but the latter gained a measure of revenge after outscoring Hovland on the opening day of the €175,000 event at Miklagard Golf Club, on the outskirts of Oslo.
The duo upstaged many of their elders and supposed superiors with astonishingly mature displays, with Hovland posting a round of 69 and Johannessen going two strokes lower to finish the day in a share of sixth place on five under par.
Both possess an old head on young shoulders and the fearlessness of youth, with Johannessen revealing that he felt he had nothing to lose and everything to gain from the experience of rubbing shoulders with some of the game’s rising stars.
The 19 year old said: “These guys are playing for a living but I’m just here to get more experience, so I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the round. I obviously came here feeling good about my game after playing so well in the National Championship last week.
“I didn’t actually score that well on the front nine, even though I reached the turn in three under, but on the back nine I really got it going and controlled the distance of my putts very well. It was very disappointing to three-putt the 16th for a bogey, because normally I would be hoping to birdie that hole. But that’s golf – I’m still really happy with a 67.
“I’ve been playing well for the past few months so I expected to play well here, but I probably didn’t expect to go that low. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, hopefully I can make the cut and then my main aim is to finish the week as the best amateur.”
Having covered his first 13 holes in four under par, Hovland was perhaps a touch disappointed to have returned a score of 69 after making his only bogey of the day on the par five sixth hole.
But the youngster was delighted just to be involved, saying: “On Wednesday I got really excited about playing here this week – I couldn’t think of anything else. But this morning, I tried to forget about it and pretend this was just another tournament.
“I felt confident after my win last week, so obviously that was in the back of my head when I teed off. I was three under through seven holes so I got off to a great start, so it’s a shame I wasn’t quite able to keep it going. But I can’t really complain about a 69 to start, so I’m very happy.”
His fellow amateur Andreas F Gjesteby was also delighted after keeping the bogeys off his card in a round of 69.