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Kieffer among leading quartet on Gran Canaria

Kieffer among leading quartet on Gran Canaria

Maximilian Kieffer bounced back from his play-off heartbreak in Austria to join Joachim B. Hansen, Joost Luiten and Robin Roussel in a share of the lead after day one of the 2021 Gran Canaria Lopesan Open.

Maximilian Kieffer

The German went five extra holes before losing out to John Catlin in Atzenbrugg but just four days later he was back at the top of a leaderboard after carding a 63 at Meloneras Golf.

That left him at seven under alongside early starters Hansen and Luiten and Frenchman Roussel, who like Kieffer is chasing a first European Tour title.

Dutchman Luiten has six victories to his name, while Dane Hansen claimed his first win at last season's Joburg Open.

English trio Richard Bland, Ben Evans and Matt Ford, Dutchman Wil Besseling, Spaniard Alejandro Del Rey, Scot Scott Jamieson and American Julian Suri were a shot off the lead.

Hansen was the only one of the leading four to go bogey free but Luiten was the man to produce the fireworks, making the 14th hole-in-one of the 2021 Race to Dubai and tenth in the last six events at the 15th.

"It was a perfect number for me to hit a wedge," he said. "It’s tucked just over the bunker but you can use the slope, right to left, I pitched it on the slope with a bit of spin and it went in. It’s one of these bonus things that happens sometimes, it’s always nice to make a hole-in-one."

He added: "Seven under is a good score. I played pretty good and gave myself quite a few chances and made some nice putts coming down the stretch. It’s a good start and we’ll see what tomorrow brings."

Hansen birdied the tenth, 12th and 15th to get to three under but Luiten - playing in the group behind - leapfrogged him in dramatic fashion.

The 35-year-old gave an opening birdie back on the the 11th but picked up shots on his next two holes and then made his ace with a wedge.

He bogeyed the 17th and found himself a shot behind Hansen as the 30-year-old birdied the 18th.

Luiten birdied the third but Hansen eagled the par five fourth and then birdied the fifth before Luiten caught him again with gains on the fourth, seventh and ninth.

Hansen said: "It was perfect - just what I wanted to go out and do. A perfect start, I played well, kept the ball in play, hit a lot of greens and rolled some putts in. I played lovely today, so I look forward to the next few days."

Kieffer was six under after seven holes in last week's final round in Austria and he started at a similar pace again, birdieing the first and making four in a row from the third.

A double bogey on the eighth stalled his progress but he regained those shots with an approach to tap-in range at the 11th and a birdie on the 13th before holing a 20 footer on the 17th and making a two putt birdie on the last to share the lead.

"I'm just hitting the ball very good," he said. "The putting stroke is decent as well. You have a lot of chances here, if you drive it well you have lots of wedges, and if you get a bit on a run you can make some birdies.

"I was just hitting very good shots and some good putts so I wasn’t too worried (after the first hole). I hit some good wedges and I knew on the course without the wind I would have a lot of wedges and I have been very good with those ranges.

"Mentally it didn’t change too much from the first to the last. I just tried my best to hit the best shots I could."

Beselling, Jamieson and Ford were bogey free in their rounds of 64, while Del Rey had a roller coaster of a day with a double, two bogeys, eight birdies and an eagle.

There were then 13 players at five under including tournament host Rafa Cabrera Bello, with 107 players under par.

"Today the mindset was good. I know I can trust my swing, I know I can trust the putting stroke and then you just have to go shot by shot."

Later in the afternoon, Roussel recovered from a slow start with eight birdies to make it a four way tie at the top.

The 2019 European Challenge Tour graduate bogeyed his opening hole but then added gains on the 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, first, fourth, sixth and eighth as he looked set for a first made cut in 2021.

"It feels good to hit good shots again, I’ve been struggling a lot since the start of the season, so it feels really good to play some good golf," he said.

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