Friday, 19 March 2010

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Japan's Taichi Teshima equalled the Kennemer course record of six under par 64 to take the first round lead in The KLM Open.

The leading duo lead a seven strong chasing pack that includes 2005 US Open Champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand and Scot Andrew Coltart, whose back nine of 27 equalled the European Tour record low score for nine holes.

In becoming only the fifth player to shoot a 27, his bid to equal the record of eight successive birdies came up one short when, having birdied seven in a row from the tenth, his 18 foot birdie putt on the 17th narrowly missed.

Teshima took full advantage of the benign conditions at Kennemer as he battles to keep his playing privileges for next season. It is the second time he has opened with a 64, the first being in the Italian Open, but on that occasion he missed the cut.

"I shot 64 in Italy (Italian Open), eight-under, but then followed up with a 77 and missed the cut by one," Teshima, who has won five times on the Japanese tour, said.

"Hopefully I can put that right now. I've had several good starts but not been able to follow them up."

Fickle weather in Europe has hindered Teshima's progress in his first year, but he is determined to stick it out and win a card for another year.

"I thought I could do better but I've missed too many cuts, which is something I didn't do in Japan," he said.

"We don't get a lot of wind in Japan and the rough is very different over here. I am determined to make my card, but I know I have to play well in every tournament I have left, to do that."

Gonnet has no such worries about his card anymore after his second place finish in last week’s Scandinavian Masters lifted him to 86th on The European Tour Order of Merit. Starting at the tenth he reached the turn in 29 with five birdies and then added another two before dropping his only shot at the seventh to match Teshima's score.

“Last week was unbelievable and I have now got my card in my pocket and it is great,” beamed the Frenchman. “I was very relaxed today and it is great for the rest of the season. I am just enjoying my game. That is why I play golf. Last week was very good and to follow that with a low round is very positive. But my goal is to get a victory and there is a long way to go.”

Campbell was another to enjoy a burst of low scoring with six birdies in eight holes lifting him into a share of third place in his bid to get back into the winners’ enclosure. With caddie Pete Coleman on his bag, Campbell drew on his wealth of experience to post a five under par 65.

“I got off to a pretty average start and then got some momentum with six birdies in eight holes,” said Campbell. “I have Pete Coleman on the bag for the first time. He has been caddieing for over 30 years and has 57 wins, two Majors and he knows what he is talking about. I asked several times the lines of the putts and he was right every time. He is earning his money this week.”

Campbell is targeting a return to winning ways having seen his close friends Angel Cabrera and Padraig Harrington win the US Open and Open respectively in recent weeks.

“I have been doing a lot of thinking the last three days and it is not much fun being down in 40th place in the Order of Merit and it is time to do something about it. I have had my holidays and it is time to get back over the next couple of months. Get back in that winning arena. It is something I have missed.”

David Lynn, the winner in 2004, was another player on five under par along with fellow Englishmen David Carter and Steve Webster and French Ryder Cup player Thomas Levet, who has finally recovered from vertigo which blighted his last year. Alexander Noren of Sweden, who boosted his season with a tied fifth in last month's Players Championship, completed the group on five under par.

There were mixed fortunes for the Langer family as father Bernhard, a three time winner of the event who turns 50 on Monday, carded a three under par 67 but his 17 year old son, Stefan, making his European Tour debut, struggled all day on his way to an opening 98.

A raking 40 footer for par on the last gave the youngster some encouragement but he still finished 31 strokes behind his father.



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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FISHER, RossENG18-12
2LUITEN, JoostNED18-11
T3ALKER, SteveNZL18-8
T3LEVET, ThomasFRA18-8
T3NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-8
T3LANGER, BernhardGER18-8
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