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Garcia Rodriguez leads as Jiménez shines on big day

Garcia Rodriguez leads as Jiménez shines on big day

Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez hailed an “amazing” opening 62 that gave him the first round lead at the Hero Open, with Miguel Ángel Jiménez featuring in an all-Spanish top three on the day he made a record 707th European Tour appearance.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Garcia Rodriguez carded two eagles, eight birdies and two bogeys at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club to lead by two from Jiménez and Pablo Larrazábal.

While Garcia Rodriguez is embarking on a maiden European Tour campaign, 56-year-old Jiménez surpassed Sam Torrance with his 707th appearance, 37 years after making his debut.

The 21 time European Tour winner marked the occasion in style, with eight birdies in a flawless 64 before he received a video call from Torrance – along with a glass of Rioja – after walking off the 18th green.

Larrazábal had nine birdies against a single bogey in his round, with Wales' Oliver Farr fourth on seven under.

Challenge Tour graduate Garcia Rodriguez, fresh from his first top five finish on the European Tour at the Austrian Open, made five birdies and an eagle at the long third to race to the turn in 29.

Any thoughts of breaking 60 were put on hold when the 31-year-old bogeyed the tenth, but Garcia Rodriguez then fired to five feet at the 13th and made it back-to-back gains at the next.

A second bogey of the day came at the 16th but the European Tour rookie recovered in style with an eagle on the 17th from ten feet before adding a birdie at the last from similar range for good measure.

“For me it's incredible but the key thing is the driver,” said Garcia Rodriguez. “The putts were so close to the hole all the time.

“It's amazing, it's my first low, low score on the European Tour.” 

Jiménez revealed it had been a “very emotional” occasion after his round.

“It’s been a wonderful day, eight under par,” he said. “Beautiful summer day and especially now on the 18th here with all my colleagues. Very emotional. 

“I enjoy everything about my life here. This is not the first time I’ve said it: it’s a way of living. It’s not about business, it’s a way of living. Golf is my life. You never remember any bad moments.” 

Jiménez was not the only player in the field making a landmark appearance, with Scotland's David Drysdale shooting a one over 73 in his 500th European Tour event.

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