Niels Boysen, a 27 year old Dutchman with an economics degree and a passion for amateur golf, upstaged the good and the great of the professional game in Europe with a remarkable seven under par 64 in the first round of the TNT Open at Noordwijkse.
Boysen, who sports a tousled mop of red hair, also wore a bemused expression as he marched off the course, barely able to comprehend the round which secured him a two stroke lead after the first 18 holes.
“This is my tenth attempt in this tournament and I hadn’t even made one cut before” admitted Boysen. “Don’t ask me why I managed to do this. I have been hitting my irons much better this month and putting better as well, but seven under par is unbelievable.”
Boysen leads by two shots from Scots Andrew Coltart and Dean Robertson as well as England’s Peter Baker. They fired rounds of 66, five under par, while nine players were bunched up behind the leaders on 67.
The Dutch fans in the galleries roared as their local hero gathered nine birdies, just a few months after missing the European Amateur Team Championships due to injury. He laughed: “I fell down the stairs. Just a stupid accident. Nothing more.”
Now back to full fitness, Boysen, by his own admission was “cruising” and he finished with a pair of birdies to emphasise his status as one of his country’s most accomplished amateur players.
He also has no plans to change that status. Unless, of course, he was to win the TNT Open title on Sunday. He said: “I have spend seven and a half years doing my Masters degree and just got the results back. I decided many years ago to put my studies first and stay amateur. Would I reconsider? I don’t know. Wait and see.”
Coincidentally, he crossed paths with Coltart many years ago in Madrid during the same European Team Championships which he missed this year. On that occasion Holland beat Scotland – with Boysen shooting 64 to Coltart’s 65 to win his match.
Meanwhile Coltart chiselled out his lowest opening round since the Trophée Lancôme last year to take a share of second place with countryman Robertson and past Ryder Cup player, Baker.
The 31 year old Scot, currently tenth in the Ryder Cup points list, ended a three year spell without a victory by capturing the Great North Open title last month. However he is looking no further than the present – and certainly not wards The De Vere Belfry at the end of September.
“That is the least of my concerns at the moment” he insisted. “I am trying to win tournaments and to climb the World Ranking. If I can achieve that, the little perks such as the one under discussion come along.
“There will be a lot of guys out there sweating because they are worrying about it and thinking about it. We’ll talk about the Ryder Cup on the Sunday of the BMW International Open. I can understand the intensity of questioning, but from our perspective it can create a huge obstacle to think about it and can trip you up from achieving your goals for the season.”
Claiming the Sunday silverware is higher on Coltart’s list of priorities these days. He added that he wouldn’t know how many Ryder Cup points are at stake this week or where he might lie on the points table by Sunday evening.
Coltart was delighted by his powers of recovery after running up a double bogey seven at his 11th hole following a wayward drive into a hazard. He responded with a seven foot birdie and picked up two more in a homeward 34.
Robertson, using a new driver he acquired this week, was pleased with his “comfortable” 66. He said: “The key was holing a long return putt at the first hole for a par. It was a huge putt and got me into the right rhythm for the rest of the round.
“I was gutted at missing the Open. I missed an exempt spot by a shot at Loch Lomond and by a couple of places in the mini Order of Merit. Fortunately I am rested and my game’s in great shape.”
Baker’s “up and down” season took an upward spiral when he shot a 66 which contained seven birdies and several good putts. He put that down to watching keenly on television last week at the putting strokes of the best exponents of that art.
“I changed my putter back to a Ping B60 and spent a lot of time in front of the TV screen to see if I could pick up some things. I watched Brad Faxon a lot. He has a great stroke and I copied him a bit by standing more open. I felt I could see the line better today.”
Of the four players who finished tied for third behind David Duval on Sunday, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke fared best with rounds of 68. Bernhard Langer carded a 69 while Miguel Angel Jiménez returned a level par 71.