Friday, 19 March 2010
SAS Masters - Round One  (Getty Images)
SAS Masters - Round One (Getty Images)

England’s Lee Slattery put himself in contention for a first win on The European Tour by starting the SAS Masters in Malmo with a six under par 67.

At 7,665 yards Bärseback is the longest course in European Tour history but Slattery, who in 2007 lost his card by just €77, had little trouble taming it.

Slattery is ranked 497 places below this week’s highest-ranked player, Swede Henrik Stenson, but holds a one stroke lead over Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez.

Without a top 20 finish since he was fourth at the KLM Open in Holland last August, Slattery was first man to tee off at 7.30am and birdied the first four holes.

The last of those was a chip in and he did it again only two holes later before making a ten footer on the long ninth to turn in a brilliant six under 30.

An hour-long suspension in play because of the threat of lightning took the wind out of the 30 year old's sails, but after bogeying the long 12th on his return he got up and down from a greenside bunker at the 558 yard 16th and parred the last two for a six under 67 that kept him at the top of the leaderboard all day.

 "I've not been playing my best and I woke up and just thought 'enjoy it and trust your swing’,” he said after a round containing only 22 putts.

"After making the start I did it just felt like the pressure was off. The field is not as strong this week, so it's a chance to do well and secure my card - although I'm trying not to think about that."

Only the top 115 on The Race to Dubai at the end of the season retain their membership and the Southport golfer is currently 136th. Slattery is keen to avoid a repeat of two years ago when he had to return to Qualifying School.

Australian Brett Rumford joined Slattery on six under, but then ran up a closing triple bogey seven after losing his first drive and being forced to chop out of the trees with his second.

Big-hitting Gonzalez has been struggling even more than Slattery this season and finds himself only 153rd in The Race To Dubai standings.

He did, however, finish 13th in the Open de France ALSTOM earlier this month and seven birdies boosted his confidence even more.

Joint third are his compatriot Tano Goya, Spaniards Pablo Martin and Pablo Larrazabal and Swede Klas Eriksson.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GONZALEZ, RicardoARG18-10
3HULDAHL, JeppeDEN18-6
T4HIGLEY, MarcusENG18-4
T4SMITH (AM), NathanUSA18-4
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