A roller coaster opening round saw Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson take the clubhouse lead at the Scottish Hydro Challenge, with young Italian star Matteo Manassero just two strokes off the six under par pace.
Carlsson compiled a remarkable round that included ten birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey, giving him an opening score of six under par 65 at the MacDonald Spey Valley Golf Course. The Swede was the first to admit that his extraordinary round was somewhat out character.
“It was an eventful day alright – ten birdies, two bogeys and a double,” said Carlsson. “I can’t remember ever only having five pars in one round, that is very unlike me.
“The putting was obviously the key today – I had 27 putts, which is very good for me. I still can’t believe it when I see guys having 23 putts in one round, I don’t think I have ever got near 23 putts. Even today I was holing them from four and five metres but I still had 27. I suppose that is the difference.”
Finn Antti Ahokas, Frenchmen Francois Calmels and Charles-Edouard, England’s Matthew Cort, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, Norway’s Marius Thorp and Chilean Mark Tullo share second spot on five under, with Manassero joining the Scottish duo of Chris Doak and George Murray a further six players on four under.
“I played really well the front nine and then not so good on the back so it should have been a better score,” said Manassero.
“I’m definitely disappointed because the back nine wasn’t good. It is just one of those things: if I had played the front nine in one over then the back nine in five under I would be happier even though I shot the same score. But that is fine and overall I have to be happy with a four under start.
“It was just a case of the putts not dropping in the back nine, that was the difference. If I had played the same way on the back nine then the score could have been very low but there are three days to improve the game and do better than I have done today. I would have taken a 67 at the start of the day.”
Doak was disappointed with his opening effort after missing a succession of short putts. He said: “I birdied 17 and 18 which was a good finish but I am bit disappointed because I left four shots out there – I missed four birdie putts from five feet do it was a bit disappointed. The game is good and I am hitting it in close but I just need to start rolling them in.
“Obviously I have good memories of winning the Northern Open here a couple of years ago so I like the course and it hasn’t changed much in the last couple of years.
“I holed a monster putt on the third from about 40 feet but missed those other ones which was a bit annoying. But it’s a good start, I’ll take that score for a start.”
Murray, celebrating his 27th birthday, was more pleased with his 67. “I played well – I have been playing well for while now, just not putting great,” said the Scot.
“I played The Open qualifier at Sunningdale and hit the ball great but just could not make a putt so I have been working on it a lot since I came up here and the stroke seems to be getting better. I am going to go and celebrate my birthday now – 27 today – so it’s time for the cake and candles!”