Felipe Aguilar, The European Tour’s first ever Chilean Member, got down to business at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open to take the first round lead with a five under par 66. Aguilar, who part finances his European Tour adventure from his two prospering businesses back home in Chile, leads the Swede Klas Eriksson and South Africa’s Jean Hugo by a single stroke at the Aa St Omer Golf Club.
After a two hour delay to the first round after an overnight deluge of heavy rain, Aguilar set about posting the best round of the day, putting together six birdies and just a single bogey to move to the head of the field.
Aguilar turned professional in 1999 and won his playing privileges to The European Tour at the Final Stage of the 2005 Qualifying School last November.
The 31 year old, like most South American golfers, cites Argentina’s Eduardo Romero as the man who inspired him to reach for the top level of European golf, but instead of relying purely on sponsorship and the help of others, Aguilar helped himself to get to the top, founding his own construction company as he planned to build his golfing career.
He said: “I have a partnership in a construction company and another one that makes windows and doors. It’s hard to find sponsors and you really have to put your hand on your own pocket. Telefonica del Sur have been supporting me for the last few years because they believe in the programme that I showed them.
“I actually decided to tour professionally about five years ago. I was a professional before that but I also had to work in my office. But then I said that I would quit my office and work towards this. I made a five year plan, which Telefonica supported, and got my card after four years so I was very pleased with that. And, I have some very good people working for me so I can play more golf!”
Hugo, meanwhile, birdied the last three holes at the Aa St Omer Golf Club to get to within a single stroke of Aguilar. The South African has fond memories of St Omer as it was the venue of his first ever top ten finish on the Challenge Tour. That inspiration, and the help of a new putter, could serve him well over the next three rounds.
Eriksson birdied the 18th to join Hugo in a tie for second place, while, Frenchman Adrien Mörk, the first player in the history of The European, Challenge and Seniors Tours to record golf’s magic number of 59, is among the five strong group on three under par.
Finally, England’s Matthew Morris produced a perfect seven iron from 190 yards to hole in one on the par three 11th.