Home hero Thomas Björn delighted the large crowds by sharing the lead with Felipe Aguilar and Bradley Dredge after a windy opening round of the inaugural Made in Denmark.
The hosts’ most successful player led outright midway through his round, which he started this morning on the tenth hole, but he was caught by the Chilean and Dredge amid gusts of 25 mph at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort.
All three carded five under par 66s, Björn’s bogey free, a fine achievement from the trio given the next best score was Thorbjørn Olesen’s 69.
Björn’s efforts pleased the vast majority of the 13,400 strong crowd, enjoying the first European Tour competition in the country since 2003.
“It was a tricky day today with the wind, especially on my back nine. But I drove the ball really well and that gives you opportunities on this golf course,” he said.
“So I’m happy with the day, happy with the start and it was pretty solid all the way round.
“There are a couple of holes out there you have to be careful and be happy to walk off with par. I put in a nice effort today.”
Björn opened with four straight pars before birdies at the 14th and 15th took him to the turn in 34.
The world number 24 and 15 time European Tour winner made back to back birdies at the third and fourth to lead by two shots on four under par.
He then came up against an unusual hazard on the next, his approach to the par four fifth green hitting overhead power cables and coming up well short of the putting surface.
Björn was required to drop another ball and retake the shot, this time finding the green and safely two putting for par.
Meanwhile Aguilar, who also began on the tenth, caught him with three consecutive gains from the fifth.
Aguilar, ranked 137 in the world and twice a European Tour winner including in this season’s The Championship at Laguna National, briefly went ahead with a birdie on the par four eighth but Björn, playing a hole behind, immediately responded in kind.
Dredge, a two time European Tour winner, also started his round on the tenth, albeit some time after Björn and Aguilar. The Welshman recovered from bogeying the second to birdie five of his last seven holes.
Dredge said: “I’m pretty pleased with that. Only one bogey and six birdies. If someone offered me 66 before I went out I would certainly have bitten their hand off.
“It’s nice when you start getting your irons shots in closer and rattling some putts in. I holed a nice 30ft putt on the last, which was a nice way to finish.
“It’s not easy around here. Even downwind it’s not easy to get it in close. Some into the wind are almost easier.”
Björn is bidding to make certain of his Ryder Cup place, having occupied an automatic qualifying spot since winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December last year.
The 43 year old dropped out of the European points list recently and is now relying on the world points list, but looks to have done enough to make the European team which will defend the trophy at Gleneagles in September.
Victory at Made in Denmark would make absolutely certain and Björn was determined to impress a sell out crowd, with more than 70,000 spectators expected at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, where Björn won his first event as a professional in 1995.
He added: “I have a lot of great support which is nice to come home to and it felt good today.
“Obviously if it gets to the weekend and I’m up there it might be different. You want to go all the way in your home country, but we will deal with that on the weekend.”
Aguilar, a keen cyclist, came into the competition after a month off and believes his good showing is a result of him relaxing.
“It was pretty solid today. I played quite well, especially on my back nine, which was the front. It was tough conditions and I’m really pleased the way I played,” he said.
“I’ve been pretty happy the last four weeks. I’ve been riding my bike with a little bit of practice at the end.
“You have to compensate inside and outside the golf course. I was really looking forward to those four weeks off and having some family time.
“There was some practice at the end and I got my body in shape. I’m now playing five (tournaments) in a row. I wasn’t playing well before the break.
“I needed to get back in the game, ride the bike and get the body in shape. I probably did about 1,000km on the bike. It was very intense.
“It takes my mind off golf. My wife trains for triathlons and I ride with her. I don’t like the gym and so this is my way of keeping in shape.”
Olesen, ranked 96th in the world, endured the particularly tricky afternoon conditions and said: “It was tough out there today.
“I had a tough start but I had two good up and downs on the first and the second and that kept me going. From then I played some really good shots.”
The Dane added: “I don’t think you get any better wind player than Thomas Björn. I thought he was going to be up there and he shot a great round this morning.
“It was nice to try to follow that and play some good golf. I’m not far behind and there is a lot of golf left to play.”