Hebert reigns before downpour halts play in Norway

08/08/2013 17:56:24
Benjamin Hebert   (Getty Images)
Benjamin Hebert (Getty Images)
Benjamin Hebert carded an eagle and five birdies to move into a two-shot lead at the Norwegian Challenge before heavy rain and flooding ended play in the early stages of the opening round at Losby Golf Club, near Oslo.

The Frenchman, who in 2011 stormed to three quick-fire victories to earn automatic promotion to The European Tour, teed off at the tenth hole and gave his round a massive boost with an eagle at the par five 11th after holing out from 130 yards.

The 26 year old followed that up with a first birdie of the day at the 12th before picking up two more shots at the 14th and 15th, and another birdie at the 17th took him to the turn in six under par.

Before he was forced to come off the course, Hebert managed to card a two at the par three second hole to take a two-shot lead through 16 holes, on seven under par.

“I had a great start, holing a shot from 120 metres with a punched eight iron,” said Hebert. “Then I had a birdie straight after that and I was lucky on the 15th too, holing a chip for birdie, so it was all great really. 

“I even missed short putts for birdie at the 16th and 18th but after that it became more difficult because it started raining. But I played very well and I have been playing well for three weeks now.”

Nevertheless, Hebert has not quite returned to the form which saw him storm to a European Tour card in the space of just over a month two years ago, but is working with a new coach and believes patience is the key as he attempts to return to The European Tour for another bite of the cherry.

“I have been in good position going into the fourth round a couple of times but I've been finishing badly,” said the Brive-born man. “I feel OK and my putting is good, for the past month I have felt confident.

“For now, I just want to play well for four rounds and get into position to win on Sunday and the after that, be prepared for the big tournaments like Kazakhstan and the Grand Final, if I can get there.

“I am working with a new coach Olivier Léglise (coach of Grégory Bourdy) and we’ve changed a few things in the address position and a few things with my putting so it’s very new, but I'm happy about it and we just have to get to know each other better.”

Like the rest of the players that were out on the course when play was suspended, Hebert will resume his first round at 7:30am local time at Losby Golf Club while the afternoon groups from the first round draw, who did not get to tee off on day one, will start between 8:00am and 10:00am before the second round begins later in the day.

“It will be a long day probably but it’s not too bad,” he said. “I'm just going to rest up and have a good lunch in between rounds. I'm happy about my game so the delay is no problem to me.”

Norwegian Anders Engell was leading the home charge before play was stopped on day one as he sat in tied second place - alongside Dane Lucas Bjerregaard - on five under par, having only played 11 holes in which he hit a superb run of three consecutive birdies followed by an eagle at the par five 17th.