Thursday, 12 April 2018
Its a good start in a great tournament - Pastor

Jon Rahm may have been billed as the headline act on day one the Open de España but it was amateur Victor Pastor who took the limelight at Centro Nacional de Golf.

World Number Four Rahm produced a five under par 67 to please the local crowds but that mark was later matched by Pastor, who was making his European Tour debut in Madrid.

Rahm also made his European Tour debut as an amateur at the 2016 US Open but he turned professional a week later and within 12 months he was into the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking.

With the help of wins at the Rolex Series Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, the Spaniard climbed to World Number Two and could have taken top spot with a win at last week's Masters Tournament.

From 113th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Pastor has a long way to go to get near the achievements of his countryman but after matching him on Thursday, he knows this week could be a vital learning experience.

I'm trying to enjoy all my time here and it's a good experience for me if I turn pro and, if I play good, I will enjoy it a lot - Victor Pastor

"It is a good start in a great tournament," he said. "As an amateur it is a bit distressing because you don't play your course or tournament but it feels good. My golf was good so I'm really happy.

"I'm trying to enjoy all my time here and it's a good experience for me if I turn pro and, if I play good, I will enjoy it a lot."

The 23 year old made a flying start with an eagle on the tenth and added further gains on the 13th, 18th and first as he surged up the leaderboard. A bogey on the fourth threatened to stall his momentum but birdies on the seventh and eighth gave him a share of the lead before a bogey on the ninth.

"I had a really bad tee-shot and ended up on the 18th or 16th fairway," he said of the tenth. "I had 240 yards to the green and I hit a tremendous three wood and hit a really good putt from ten to 12 metres, so it was a very good start."

Rahm has flown in from Augusta National for this week and he was pleased to conquer jet-lag and make a positive start.

The home hero birdied the 13th and while he gave the shot back on the next, an eagle on the 18th saw him turn in 34.

He put his tee-shot close on the third for another gain, made a good par save from a cart path on the fourth and a beautiful chip on the par five fifth helped him into a share of the lead. A drive to the greenside rough on the par four seventh then allowed him pitch to close range and make another birdie.

"It was good," he said. "To be honest, I played a lot better than I expected, especially off the tee. My driver was really good today - the driver alone set up two birdies on 13 and on seven.

"Things like that are obviously a bonus. Too bad that I couldn't make a couple of putts but I guess it's happening to everyone, the greens are not easy to read. Still, five under par is fine and hopefully I can keep playing the same way to the green and make some putts for the rest of the week.

"They did a fantastic job drying the course. On the first hole especially after yesterday I was expecting the ball to land and stop but it took a big bounce. It was amazing to be able to dry up the course the way they did, that's why the scores are not as low as we expected. So all credit to maintenance, it was amazing to see how good a job they've done."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RAHM, JonESP18-20
2DUNNE, PaulIRL18-18
3ELVIRA, NachoESP18-17
4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-16
T5WARREN, MarcSCO18-15
T5CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18-15

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