Thomas Detry shattered the course record at Heythrop Park Resort with a 12 under par round of 60 to take a commanding four shot lead after day one of the Bridgestone Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.
The Belgian picked up 12 birdies during a bogey-free round in Oxfordshire, becoming the second player to card a 12 under par round on the 2016 Road to Oman after Nicolo Ravano achieved the feat with a 59 in La Gomera.
The 23 year old, who is playing in his first season on Europe’s top developmental tour, made five gains to reach the turn in 30.
Six successive birdies in his first six holes over the back nine left the University of Illinois graduate with a chance of becoming only the third player in the history of the European, Challenge and Senior Tours to reach 59.
Despite not quite reaching the magic number Detry was thrilled with his day’s work, in particular shooting a better score than his childhood friend Thomas Pieters who signed for a nine under par round of 62 on Europe’s top tier in Denmark earlier in the day.
“It was my best score ever,” he said. “I have shot eight under par in the States but this was by far my lowest round.
“It feels a bit weird really. I started to lose track towards the end and didn’t know if I was ten or 11 under.
“I almost dropped a putt on 17 to give myself a chance of making 59 and then I had a chip on 18 to make it - but I didn’t have a great lie. It still feels great to make 60, though.
“I changed something with my putter today. I added one degree of loft to it which I think I lost while I was travelling and I rolled the ball in beautifully.
“I was able to make some putts and get off to a good start. I chipped in on three which got everything started. Then I just kept the momentum going and kept hitting fairways and greens.
“I wasn’t really thinking about Thomas’s score to begin with but whenever he does well it inspires me. Then when I was on the course shooting some good numbers I did think to myself ‘I would really like to beat his score’.
(credit: golfsupport.nl/Frank Vuylsteke)
“There is no point in trying to change anything in my game plan. If the putts keep dropping then I will continue to do well. If I keep playing my game I feel like I will shoot under par every day.”
Ireland’s Kevin Phelan set the clubhouse lead earlier in the day after an eight under par round of 64. He shares second place with America’s Shiwan Kim and France’s Damien Perrier.