Peter Lonard of Australia smashed the course record at Itanhangá Golf Club with a ten under par 62 which earned him a three stroke lead over the field after the first round of the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.
Lonard, the first round leader in the Qatar Masters two weeks ago, made another fast start on the European Tour’s ground-breaking visit to South America for the first of two successive weeks in Brazil.
The powerful Australian packed two eagles and six birdies into his round, which trimmed four strokes off the previous official record set in the '80s when the Brazilian Open was won at Itanhangá by Vicente Fernandez.
Lonard revealed that his score was three strokes lower than his previous best on the European Tour while his inward 20 constituted a personal first in competition. He said: “I think I’ve set two course records at home in Australia in the past, but this is the first time I’ve gone as low as 62.
“I suppose it is a bit of a surprise to shoot so low. I don’t do that every day of the week, but it’s good to go out and do that. I missed opportunities at the first four holes and thought I was going to shoot over par again. Instead I shot ten under!”
Lonard leads from a cluster of players on 65, seven under par. Scots’ rookie Alastair Forsyth threatened to emulate the Australian when he birdied the 17th to move to nine under, but the club slipped from his hands on the 18th tee due to the intense humidity and he ran up a double bogey.
However that error didn’t prevent Forsyth from finishing level with England’s Phil Golding and Paolo Quirici of Switzerland.
The youngster, who won the Qualifying School last year and has already earned enough to retain his card for 2001, admitted: “The club slipped and I hit a horrible shot and needed a penalty drop. It was a shame but I still managed to shoot my lowest round on the Tour.
“I suppose a lot of what’s happened in three months has taken me by surprise, but I think I’ve handled it well. I always felt if I got off to a decent start then everything would fall into place. My goal was to keep my card and I’ve achieved that. Everything else is a bonus.”
Golding also shot 65 helped by three twos on the back nine. He attributed his good form to a profitable new relationship with coach Nick Bradly from Dukesdean in Kent. He said: “I had been seeing Scott Cranfield for four years and felt I needed a change. Nick was recommended by Roger Winchester and I felt this round had been coming.”
Quirici did superbly well in difficult circumstances. He fell ill on Wednesday after picking up a stomach bug and felt so unwell that he slept that night in his golfing clothes from that day!
“I felt so bad I couldn’t even undress” he explained. “I was sick and feverish. I don’t know how I got up to play early in the morning. I didn’t eat anything and had no expectations, but sometimes when that happens, everything falls into place.”