Thursday, 23 August 2012
Nicolas Colsaerts   (Getty Images)
Nicolas Colsaerts (Getty Images)
Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts was thrilled by the start he made to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles - an event where a top two finish will give him a Ryder Cup debut next month.

The big-hitting 29 year old shot a three under par 69 to be one behind early clubhouse leader Thorbjørn Olesen and said: "Exactly the day I wanted - something not very stressful."

Colsaerts has a good chance of a wild card if necessary, but rightly feels that qualifying for the team automatically would be a "big boost" to his confidence heading into the match in Chicago.

He was playing with one of Captain José María Olazábal's assistants Thomas Björn - also this week's defending champion - and the Dane commented: "We all know what Nicolas can do. He is in good form and you can see his confidence is high.

"I'm pleased with what I saw."

Björn himself kicked off with a 70, while Colsaerts came back from an early bogey with five birdies in seven holes around the turn.

He was leading at that point, but three-putted the 468 yard seventh - his 15th - after missing from three feet.

England's David Lynn, runner-up in the US PGA Championship a fortnight ago and one of those with a chance of a wild card, shot a one under 71, while Olazábal himself was a late starter, as were Scot Paul Lawrie and Italian Francesco Molinari, the two certain members of the team playing in the event.

Björn's compatriot Olesen had his first European Tour win in Sicily in April and led on his own by one from not only Colsaerts, but also England's Richard Finch, Scot Richie Ramsay and Australian Daniel Gaunt, a late replacement for former BMW PGA Champion Simon Khan.

He pulled out just before the start with a wrist injury, possibly caused when he fell on it after going on a waterslide with his seven year old daughter while on holiday in Portugal last week.

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey came unstuck with golf's rules for the second tournament running as he opened with a 71.

At the US PGA Championship Hoey disqualified himself when he realised he should have replaced sand over his ball and this time he received a two stroke penalty because, taking relief from ground under repair, he placed his ball instead of dropping it first when preferred lies were in operation.

"I hope that's it for life," he said. "It was not stupidity, I was just getting ahead of myself.

"I'm having a nightmare. Lots of money, lots of shots," the former British Amateur Champion added.

Olesen had company at the top when Australian Brett Rumford went to the turn in a four under 32, while both Lawrie and Molinari stood one under after seven.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LAWRIE, PaulSCO18-16
2RUMFORD, BrettAUS18-12
T3ANDERSSON HED, FredrikSWE18-11
T3LAFEBER, MaartenNED18-11
T3WATTEL, RomainFRA18-11
T6MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-10
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