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Norrman and Elvira share lead in Wales

Norrman and Elvira share lead in Wales

Vincent Norrman revealed he had taken inspiration from Open Champion Collin Morikawa as he continued a stellar start to his professional career by sharing the lead after day one of the 2021 Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale.

Vincent Norrman

The Swede only joined the paid ranks last month but already has a European Tour top five on his CV and carded a bogey free 64 to sit at seven under alongside Spaniard Nacho Elvira after 18 holes at The Celtic Manor Resort.

Finn Mikko Korhonen and England's James Morrison were two shots off the lead at the 2010 Ryder Cup venue, with nine players then in a tie at four under.

Norrman claimed low amateur honours on home soil at the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika and then marked his professional debut on the European Tour with a hole-in-one and a top five at the BMW International.

He now holds a lead in just his fifth European start as an amateur or a professional, and revealed he was hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow fast starters Morikawa and Viktor Hovland.

"You have to believe in yourself," he said. "I’m super excited to get the opportunity to be out here with the guys who are the best in the world.

"The game is there. It’s a lot of fun to prove yourself out here and not play amateur golf. I’m not surprised but I guess a lot of people are.

"Two years ago Hovland and Morikawa proved that if you’re a good amateur you can do it. They motivate us, the guys coming up."

He added: "It was a good day, I’m having a lot of fun out there at the moment. I didn’t know I shot seven under to be honest, with that birdie on the last, I was so in the zone."

Elvira has 194 starts under his belt and while he has made just two of his last 11 cuts, he showed some of the form that has made him a four time winner on the European Challenge Tour.

He recorded just five pars in his 64, making an eagle, nine birdies, two bogeys and a double, and he admitted his round had been a "rainbow".

"Every single colour on the scorecard today," he said. "I don’t think I’ve ever made nine birdies and an eagle in a round.

"I think I played pretty solid, I putted nicely, which is something I haven’t done very well lately. I got a couple of bad breaks coming in but overall I’m happy.

"I didn’t think about (going low). I haven’t had a dream season, so I’m just trying to stay patient and go shot-by-shot and it adds up. I didn’t have a number in mind, I just tried to stick to my process and I did, that’s why I stayed so patient today."

Norrman got up and down on the fourth and holed a long putt from the fringe on the next before putting a tee shot to seven feet at the seventh to turn in 33.

He found the green in two at the par five 11th, pitched to four feet on the 15th, left himself a tap-in on the 17th and then found the green in two again on the par five last for another birdie.

Elvira made the most of the two par fives on the front nine while also holing long putts on the sixth and eighth and a ten footer on the third, with dropped shots on the fourth and seventh.

A stunning second at the par five 11th left him just two feet for eagle and he added gains on the 12th and 15th to share the lead.

He got a flier into some very nasty rough and got himself stung by nettles as he double bogeyed the 16th but a tee shot to six feet on the next and a two putt birdie on the last got him back to seven under.

Korhonen sandwiched a hat-trick of gains from the fourth with birdies on the second and ninth but stumbled at the 13th and 14th before holing a long putt at the 16th and leaving himself a tap-in at the next.

Morrison made birdies on the second, fourth, eighth, 11th and 14th, and bounced back from a dropped shot on the 16th with a gain on the penultimate hole.

Sam Horsfield won the Celtic Classic over this layout last year and he was at four under alongside fellow Englishmen Robert Rock, Matt Wallace and Jordan Wrisdale, Australians Bryden Macpherson and Wade Ormsby, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and American Chase Hanna.

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