Denmark’s Jeff Winther made a flying start to the KPMG Trophy in Belgium with a superb seven under par 65 in the first round.
The 27 year old set the benchmark high with a superb round featuring nine birdies and two bogeys, making light work of the windy conditions at Golf de Pierpont to lead by two shots from a group of five players - Englishman Gary Boyd, Spaniard Agustin Domingo, Frenchman Edouard Dubois, Sweden’s Jacob Glennemo and Dutchman Taco Remkes.
Winther was left ruing a bogey at the par three ninth – his final hole, having teed off from the tenth – but overall was happy with his opening effort.
“I’m annoyed about the last and the other bogey on the 18th, but it’s okay, that’s golf,” he said. “I hit a lot of shots really close – I had six putts inside six feet.
“It was like playing links golf out there – it’s incredibly firm.
I’ve never played on links courses really, but I like it.
“On the last I missed the green left and chipped it on to three feet, but missed the putt. I missed another short one for birdie on seven, too – the three last holes could’ve been much better.
“It’s an interesting course. Off the tee it’s going a mile, so you’ve only got wedges and short irons into the greens. Even on the par fives your second shot is with a five iron.”
Winther was a rookie on the Challenge Tour last season, having graduated from the Nordic League in 2013, and feels he is ready to make the next step.
“I want it so badly this year,” he added. “Last year was like a test for me to see what the Challenge Tour was like and see how I got on.
“I really got a good feeling and managed to play 18 times with the category I had. Now I know what’s going on and it feels more like home, and I’m ready to push on.”
Glennemo and Remkes were the only bogey-free players in the top 20, the latter attributing his impressive start to a hot putter.
“This is a totally different golf course from what we’ve played all year,” said Remkes. “It’s super hard, very firm. The greens are good, and you have to think a bit differently – it’s quite linksy.
“I didn’t actually hit the ball that well, but my putting was great today. I played well at the weekend last week and that has given me some confidence coming here.”
Belgian Thomas Pieters did not have the homecoming he had hoped for, carding a four over par 76 in his first competitive appearance on home soil since 2008. The 23 year old European Tour player had three bogeys and a double in his opening nine holes, but rallied after the turn and came home in one under par.