Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Dane Morten Orum Madsen share the first round lead in the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal after carding six under par rounds of 66 at Santo da Serra.
The pair both posted seven birdies and one bogey to sit one shot clear of Englishmen Matthew Baldwin and Charlie Ford, Austrian HP Bacher, Dane Andreas Hartø and Irishman Colm Moriarty.
For Fleetwood, it was a far cry from his opening round of 80 in last week’s Reale Seguros Open de España, which he admits was the worst he has played since turning professional two years ago.
“It was a pretty stress-free round today,” said the 21 year old. “I missed a few chances but overall I played well. I’ve been saying for a while that I’m very close to playing great, and it’s certainly nice to open with a round that isn’t 80.
“I hardly holed anything all day though so it was nice to get one rolling in at pace on the last. It makes lunch taste a bit sweeter. The longest putt I had for birdie all round was about four feet, so I hit it close and holed out well, but didn’t hole any long ones, even though I felt like I putted well.
“Today the course was very much for the taking. It doesn’t get much easier than that. There were a few pins tucked away but it’s the best chance of scoring you’re going to get so it was good to take advantage of that.
“When you are all playing well in your group it does help. It’s a momentum thing. You pull each other along and hopefully it’ll be the same tomorrow.
“It’s a great start and I couldn’t really have hoped for a better one. It’s nice to be in the mix early on. Three more rounds of 66 would be nice. My swing felt great today so I hope I can build on this over the next few days.”
Madsen, a Challenge Tour player, is used to fast starts, having shot 64 in the first round of the Barclays Kenya Open in March.
He said: "It was the perfect day and I really enjoyed it out there. I made some good putts and hit the ball really well. It's pretty fun to be playing a European Tour event and alongside lots of guys who are regulars on The European Tour.
"It's nice to get off to a great start, but it's a tough field. Hopefully I can still be up there on Sunday. I made a great start in Kenya but didn't handle myself well over the weekend, so hopefully I have learned from that experience."
Baldwin was in the same three-ball as Fleetwood and also had a productive day, carding five birdies in a blemish-free round.
“It was very solid,” he said. “It’s always nice not to have a bogey. I only made one silly mistake on the eighth but fortunately I got away with it.”
Bacher’s round, however, was more eventful as he started with a double bogey at the sixth before posting six birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
“I only got the 31st card at the Qualifying School so I haven’t had many chances to play,” he said. “But it means I’ve had plenty of time to do some good preparation, and I’m pleased it has paid off today.
“I was in the bunker on the first and then three-putted, so my round started with a perfect drive on the second. I played very well for the rest of the round and it’s always nice to have an eagle – I hit my approach to about three metres and holed the putt.
“I’ve been working very hard and I’ve just got to make the most of my chances when they come along.”
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