Mark Tullo continued his recent resurgence in form to take a share of the lead at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge after an opening round of 64 left him alongside Ryan Evans on seven under par at the top of the leaderboard.
The Chilean arrived at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil after top ten finishes in two of his last three events, including a tie for fifth on French soil last month, and produced his lowest European Challenge Tour round for more than a year in blustery conditions in Normandy.
Three times a Challenge Tour winner, most recently in Finland three years ago, Tullo has graduated to the European Tour through the Rankings on three occasions, each time dropping straight back down to the Road to Oman – a habit he hopes to break soon.
“I’m like Mr Trampoline,” said the 39 year old. “I go up and down, up and down, and it would actually be nice to stay up there on the European Tour but this is a sport where you have to take the good and the bad.
“I’m not saying it’s bad to be here but obviously I’d like to be back on the European Tour and if that happens, great, if it doesn’t happen, that’s great too.
“Today was good. I played very solid from the start but it was a tricky day, the wind was howling and it rained a little bit, but the tricky part is that the greens are like turtles and you’re hitting long shots in – if you hit them in the wrong place, they’re going to bounce quite hard and run off.
“I didn’t even know where I was until 18, then I started adding up and realised it was seven under – that’s what I usually do, I switch off when I’m doing well and don’t keep my score, but it was a good, solid day.
“I’ve been playing well lately and this sport surprises you sometimes, but this is a nice surprise for now, and another good round in tough conditions, so I’m happy with that.”
Evans has struggled to replicate his tournament-winning form of late since a breakthrough victory at the Turkish Airlines Challenge in April, making only two Challenge Tour cuts in the last three months.
However, the Englishman looked back to his best as he matched Tullo’s mark, combining eight birdies – six of which came in succession – with a single dropped shot as he bids to improve his current Ranking of 11th.
The leading Frenchman on home soil after Round One is Mathieu Fenasse, one shot off the lead on six under par after three birdies in his final four holes.
One shot further back in fourth place is Road to Oman Number Two Aaron Rai, the highest-ranked player in the field this week and chasing a third victory of 2017.
The Englishman has been moving ominously into form recently and his opening round of 66 is a perfect foundation as he chases immediate promotion to the European Tour by virtue of three wins in a season.
Jérôme Lando Casanova completes the top five after 18 holes, the Frenchman’s opening 67 taking him one shot clear of a large group of players on three under par, including his compatriots Thomas Linard and Adrien Saddier.