Thursday, 22 March 2018
Max Schmitt (credit Stefan Heigl)  (European Tour)
Max Schmitt (credit Stefan Heigl) (European Tour)

Germany’s Max Schmitt got off to a strong start today in his first ever round on the European Challenge Tour in the Barclays Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya.

The 19 year old carded five birdies on his way to an opening day 67, leaving him two shots back of leaders Ross Kellett of Scotland and Max Orrin of England

“This was my first big event as a professional,” said Schmitt. “I did not hit my first shot very well, but I ended up birdieing the first. That was quite cool.

“From there, I was really good. There was one shot that I could have hit better, but the rest was ideal.”

The three-time winner on the Pro Golf Tour in 2017 dropped only a single shot, which came on the monstrous 616-yard par five seventh—a hole that is playing even longer than the scorecard suggests due to soft conditions.

“Over the last few weeks they’ve had a lot of rain here, so it is still quite wet out there,” Schmitt noted.

The length, combined with the lack of roll, caused the seventh hole to average over par on the first day, which is a rarity for a par five in professional golf.

The World Number 539, who began his day on the tenth hole, saved his best shot for last, an approach shot from 117 yards on his final hole, the 414-yard ninth.

“You couldn’t really see where the ball was landing,” he said. “I just hit it right over the pin, and when I got up there, my pitch mark was 50 cm from the hole and it had spun back to one foot.”

The 2014 Junior Ryder Cup player hopes to carry his form into tomorrow, and the rest of the week, by managing the key holes at Muthaiga Golf Club.

“The second nine is really tough,” said the teenager. “There are some holes that I was just happy to par, so if I keep playing them well, it could be a lower score tomorrow.”

Schmitt, who is paired with England’s Jack Senior and Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, will begin his second round at 11:50 local time tomorrow on the first hole.

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