Scotland’s Dean Robertson found the perfect tonic for a five-month lay-off with a course record equalling 65 to lead the field after the first round of the Spanish Open at PGA Golf de Catalunya. Robertson has been sidelined since the World Cup of Golf in Kuala Lumpur last November where he picked up a stomach virus which left him with cramps and feeling nauseous much of the time. Asides from nine holes in Australia in January, after which he returned home, Robertson has had enough trouble sleeping, let alone playing golf and was understandably delighted with his opening round.
Despite admitting to nerves for the first few holes he said, “I just told myself to go out and enjoy it and fortunately I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities, which I made”.
Dean’s seven under par total put him ahead of a queue of three others on six under par. Juan Quiros was flying the Spanish flag after a 66 in which he claimed to have felt more relaxed than he could remember on the golf course. Part of this he put down to having a friend on the bag with whom he talked of his love of motorcycles between shots.
Quiros was joined by Swiss Paulo Quirici and Australian Nick O’Hern, who himself has returned from a six week break. Nick’s break however was not enforced, but after a full and tiring 1999 season in which he gained his European Tour card he had decided to takes things a little easier at the start of 2000 with his exemption in the bag.
Last year’s Spanish Open Champion Jarmo Sandelin opened with a very respectable 68 and was full of praise for the new tournament venue. “It’s fantastic, such a great course”, he ehthused, sentiments Seve Ballesteros would no doubt have shared after holing out for an eagle two at the opening hole. Despite following this with birdies at the 4th and 6th Seve ended the day at three over par, five adrift of the new Spanish prodigy, Sergio Garcia. In his first full year on Tour Garcia will no doubt be hoping to give the seven-time European number one Colin Montgomerie a run for his money. Montgomerie opened with a 67, not far off the pace, but who would expect any less.