Welshman Liam Bond set the early pace at Frilford Heath as he got his quest for a European Tour card off to an impressive start with a five under par 67.
The European Tour Qualifying School First Stage concludes this week with Section D at Frilford Heath in England and Ribagolfe in Portugal with 224 players competing at the two venues.
Six courses across Europe – Ebreicsdorf in Austria, The Roxburghe in Scotland, Wychwood Park in England, Fleesensee in Germany, Hardelot in France and Bogogno in Italy – have already hosted the First Stage over the last month with 127 players successfully negotiating the first hurdle.
The leading 29 players and ties from the two final venues will join them in progressing to the Second Stage, which takes place across four venues in Spain – Campo de Golf El Saler, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, El Valle Golf Resort and Lumine Golf & Beach Club – from November 7-10. Approximately 310 players will line up at those four venues, with about 80 progressing through to the Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort – also a European Tour Course - from November 24-29.
Five birdies in his first 11 holes laid the foundations for Bond’s opening round and while he dropped shots at the 12th and 14th, he closed with birdies on 16th and 18th to lead by one from four Englishmen; Amateur Darren Timms, Liam O’Neill, Billy Hemstock and James Watts.
Play finished as heavy showers fell on Frilford Heath, making conditions more difficult for the later starters.
American Chan Kim leads the way at Ribagolfe near the Portuguese capital of Lisbon with a seven under par 65.
Kim, formerly of Arizona State University whose other alumni include Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson and Alejandro Canizares, is looking to follow the example of fellow American Kelly Kraft, winner of last week’s Section C First Stage at Golf d’Hardelot.
Kim’s stunning first round was four strokes better than the rest of the field at Ribagolfe, with Hugo Santos, brother of European Tour winner Ricardo, among those on three under par 69 alongside Dutchman Jurrian Van Der Vaart, Spain’s José Luis Adarraga Gomez and England’s Tom Shadbolt.