Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts picked up ten birdies on his way to a seven under par 65 to lead Frenchman Gregory Havret by a single stroke after the first round of the Open de Sevilla at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla, Spain.
Colsaerts picked up five birdies on each half although his front nine, the back nine of the course, also featured three bogeys. He made amends however when he turned from home, birdying his final hole to overtake Havret, whose opening 66 had stood at the top of the leaderboard for most of the day.
Colsaerts first joined the European Tour in 2000 when, having turned professional on the eve of the Qualifyign School Finals on his 18th birthday, he successfully negotiated the six round examination to become the second youngest player to earn his card through the School. Although he subsequently lost his card he regained it through the Challenge Tour in 2002 and last year finished 77th in the Volvo Order of Merit.
Today's 65 is his second lowest round on The European Tour International Schedule.
Havret reeled off six birdies in the space of seven holes for an opening six under par 66 which placed him one stroke clear of compatriot Jean-Francois Remesy, Italian Emanuele Canonica, Welshman Garry Houston and Spain’s Ivo Giner.
Havret has started his 2004 campaign in impressive form, losing out in a play-off to Germany’s Marcel Siem in the dunhill championship in his second event of the year and then finishing in the top ten in the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos a fortnight ago.
Having proved his potential in his rookie season of 2001, when he won the Atlanet Italian Open at Is Molas, Havret has now set his sights on representing France in the World Golf Championships – World Cup which returns to the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla in November.
“I didn’t expect to play so well so early in the season but it has certainly made me raise my sights,” said Havret. “After I won in 2001 I don’t think I did the right things, especially in the winter following, and had a bad 2002, but now I’ve changed my winter training and changed my coach, things are looking up again.
“It would be great to get into the World Cup team and play for France but there are so many good French players so a win here would really boost my chances.”
Remesy, the 1999 Estoril Open champion, looked set to match Havret’s total before bogeying his 16th hole, the seventh on the course, to fall back to a tie for third. It was the second bogey of a roller-coaster round that included five birdies and an eagle on the sixth where he holed his second shot on the 451 yard par four.
Giner picked up four birdies in his last nine holes, the front nine on the José Maria Olazábal-designed course for a five under par 67 to lie just one shot off the pace and ahead of the group on four under par.
That group includes tournament favourite Miguel Angel Jiménez, currently Number Two in the Volvo Order of Merit, who made a solid start to his bid to win a second successive European Tour title and third of the season following his successes in the Johnnie Walker Classic and the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos.
Jiménez described his four under par 68 round as “lucky”, highlighting a pitch in for eagle on the long fifth when his ball hit the flagstick at speed and disappeared down the hole and then on the ninth his ball jumped the hazard, helping him to a birdie.