Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed carded six birdies in a blemish-free round of 65 to claim a one stroke lead on the first day of the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC.
The 37 year old edged ahead of Australian duo Michael Curtain and Tony Carolan as the best of the morning starters, before gusting winds made scoring tougher in the afternoon.
Andersson Hed, starting at the 10th hole, began with a birdie and added another at the 476-yard 15th to turn at two under.
After four successive pars he then birdied four of his final five holes to move to the top of the leaderboard in the dual ranking event, which carries a prize fund of €600,000.
“I had a very pleasing day at the office,” beamed Andersson Hed. “I only hit a couple of bad tee shots all day, and even managed to get away with them.
“I just hope I can keep it going for all four rounds this week. I’ve been striking the ball well lately, even though I missed the cut on the Challenge Tour in Ireland last week. So my game’s definitely there or thereabouts at the moment.”
Andersson Hed was almost caught by Carolan, who also started on the back nine, but the Australian bogeyed his penultimate hole – the 389-yard eighth – before a birdie four at his last hole lifted him back to five under par.
Curtain also dropped a shot on the eighth hole, but he made amends with an eagle at the next to turn in 33, before three birdies and one bogey on the back nine moved him to five under.
“My game’s been ticking along quite nicely lately, but today everything really clicked into gear,” Curtain said.
“I didn't do anything spectacular out there – I just didn't make any silly errors. Over the past few weeks I’ve got off to great starts, but then pushing too hard has cost me dear. So I’ve just tried to play smart golf, and it’s worked for me so far.”
One stroke back are Spaniard Carlos Del Moral – who also eagled the ninth to cover the front nine in a best-of-the-day 32 – and England’s James Morrison, who kept the bogeys off the card in his round of 67.
Morrison said: “It’s important to play well this week, because it’s like a Major for the Challenge Tour guys. It’s all about peaking at the right time, and I’ve made a good start.”
Earlier in the day, Sweden’s Christian Nilsson carded a trio of birdies to finish on three under par.
Nilsson finished as the runner-up in last year’s event, but admitted he has been somewhat disappointed with his form since then.
“It hasn’t been brilliant,” he said. “I played ok on the Challenge Tour towards the end of the year to finish in the top 20 of the Rankings, but I knew I could’ve played a lot better.
“The start of this year hasn’t been great either, so I’m hoping for a decent week here to kick-start my season. It’s been very frustrating, but hopefully I’m over the worst of it now.”
Meanwhile, Argentina’s Clodomiro Carranza won a Renault Twingo after his ace on the 181-yard 17th hole. Despite a diminutive frame Carranza is famed for his long-hitting, and he proved his power with an eight iron which flew all the way into the cup.