Dinwiddie and Manley on top in England

7/26/2012 7:48:47 PM
Stuart Manley  (Getty Images)
Stuart Manley (Getty Images)
Robert Dinwiddie and Stuart Manley set the pace on seven under par after the opening day of the English Challenge at a sun-drenched Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, where they both carded scorching 65s to hold the tied lead.

There was not a bogey between them over the difficult lay-out on the Gainsborough Course at the Essex venue, just outside Colchester, as they lay one shot ahead of second-placed Francis McGuirk.

Welshman Manley started strongly, holing a 20 foot putt to open with a birdie at the first before chipping in from 25 yards for eagle at the fifth. He picked up another shot at the ninth hole before birdies at the 12th, 14th and 15th put him into contention to claim his maiden Challenge Tour title.

“I am high on confidence,” said the 33 year old. “I've been playing nicely recently and I had a good lesson with my coach last week and again this week and I felt things changing for me. I've been putting great recently but I haven’t been hitting the ball well enough to go with it.

“But I'm hitting the ball well now and I’ll do well if I can do that because I normally putt pretty well. I am confident because there’s no pressure on me at the moment and as long as I'm committed I’ll do well.

“This is the best I've felt all year really and I thought, ‘just try and be more aggressive this week’  because I've got a good enough short game to get up and down if I do miss a few greens so I wanted to push on and make birdies and be committed.”

England’s Dinwiddie is vying for a fourth Challenge Tour title and he started his home tournament perfectly with a birdie at the first hole before two more gained shots at the third and sixth. He kept a blemish off his card with a superb save at the eighth before a birdie at the ninth took him to the turn in three under.

He gave himself plenty of birdie chances on the back nine but could only capitalise at the 14th, 16th and 18th, where he sank a 20-footer in front of the watching crowds to crown a superb day.

“It’s not an easy course and you can easily get out of position,” said the 29 year old. “But I found in the Pro-Am that I was reading the greens well and I feel like I've been putting well all year, I just needed to read the greens better.

“Hopefully I can read them well now for the rest of the week. It was a nice two on the last because it’s not an easy hole. It will be exactly the same game plan tomorrow and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Another Englishman, McGuirk, was a shot further back after three consecutive birdies from the third hole took him to the turn in three under before four birdies and a bogey meant he signed for a six under par round of 66.

Julien Grillon of France was another shot back on five under after a 67 while four Englishmen – Jordan Gibb, Matt Haines, Sam Little and Chris Paisley – were all on three under and still in with a shout of claiming the title in the only England-based Challenge Tour event of the 2012 season.