On-song Dubois leads on La Gomera

5/30/2013 9:16:41 PM
Edouard Dubois ()
Edouard Dubois ()

Frenchman Edouard Dubois shot a stunning eight under par 63 to take a narrow first round lead at the Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana.

With a strong, swirling wind coursing over the stunning Tecina Golf layout on the small Canary Island of La Gomera, the scoring was still excellent as numerous players found their way under par despite the testing conditions, none seeming to revel in the challenge more readily than the 23 year old Bordeaux man.

It was a late, great effort that ran into the evening from Dubois, who overhauled a trio of players at seven under par, including compatriot Julien Guerrier, Germany's Nicolas Meitinger and American Brooks Koepka. 

Dubois got off to a flying start, carding a hat-trick of birdies over the opening three holes before a further trio of birdies from the ninth saw him surge to six under par.

The two-time Challenge Tour winner's only dropped shot came at the short 14th after missing the green from the tee, but he bounced back in style, closing out with a birdie at the 16th before a valuable 25-foot eagle putt at the long 17th helped Dubois soar into a one shot advantage over the field following the first day's play in Spain.

"I hit the ball very well from the tee and my short game was really good because here it is very difficult to get close to the pin," said Dubois. "My putting was also really nice today. 

"I like the course, the place is fantastic, it's been a long time since we have seen the sun so it is great to be here.

Dubois played a season on The European Tour last year courtesy of an 11th place finish in the 2011 Challenge Tour rankings, but failed to keep his card as he finished 173rd in The Race to Dubai, and after his scintillating opening efforts on La Gomera he talked of his desire to return to the upper echelons of the sport.

He continued: "I normally practice with [Gregory] Bourdy, [Gregory] Havret and [Julien] Quesne and I am working to get back to The European Tour but I have to play better; I have made two top-fives but I also have missed three cuts."

Meitinger had set the pace early on day one, firing a flawless 64 which featured four birdies before the turn - including a 65-foot birdie putt at the eighth - and three after, a total that was then matched by Guerrier, who also remained bogey-free in an equally superb effort. Koepka, meanwhile, joined those on seven under par late on after a roller coaster round from the 23 year old Florida man which included seven birdies, an eagle and a double bogey.

"I just missed one green on the 14th hole but the rest of the round I played really solid, giving myself lots of chances and generally played really well," said Meitinger, who has been plying his trade mainly only the Asian Tour this year. "I usually play here well, but today wind was completely different than last year or even yesterday."

Guerrier, who finished second in this event in 2011, said: "I played 16 holes perfectly, holing putts and feeling really good. On the 16th I hit the nine iron from 165 meters, I thought it was 170 but I crossed the fence, very badly and but then I managed to save the par - that was important. 

"In these conditions you'd better do windsurfing! It was really difficult out there. It is only the beginning, there are three more rounds to go but after what I did 2 years ago I know that if I keep playing like today I can do something very good."

Despite some wayward play on Thursday, Koepka, who won his maiden Challenge Tour event earlier this month at the Montecchia Golf Open presented by POLAROID, was also pleased to have put himself in a good position following the opening round.

He said: "I played well and all the misses I did make came in the correct spots. I played okay, not great because the wind was making it really difficult - especially on the fourth (where he lost a ball after flying the green). But seven under is not bad for an opening round. 

"The season is going pretty well, I'm playing well, I have confidence in what I am doing and building towards new things. I am believing in myself which is half of it, and I hope it stays for the week and the rest of the year."