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Pulkkanen and Veerman among leading trio in Spain

Pulkkanen and Veerman among leading trio in Spain

Tapio Pulkkanen and Johannes Veerman set the clubhouse target as part of a three-way tie for the lead at the end of a weather-affected day one of the 2022 ISPS Handa Championship in Spain.

Tapio Pulkkanen

There was a delay of over two hours in the morning as the groundstaff did a remarkable job to get play under way at The Lakes Course at Infinitum following very heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Scotland's David Law posted an excellent bogey-free 65 to set the target but was reeled in as conditions improved in the afternoon.

American Veerman overcame a bogey-bogey start to come home in 30 and set the mark at six under with a 64, a score matched by Finn Pulkkanen shortly after.

South African Hennie du Plessis then joined them at that score but had two holes to complete on Friday morning, with 38 other players also yet to complete round one.

Law and England's Jack Senior were in the clubhouse at five under alongside Dane Rasmus Højgaard and Italy's Guido Migliozzi, who had three and one holes to complete respectively.

Veerman claimed his first DP World Tour win last season at the D+D Real Czech Masters and spoke earlier in the year of how that had given him a real boost coming into 2022.

Life got even better when he became a father in January and the 29-year-old was feeling good at the course where he came through the Qualifying School in 2019.

“I had a pretty slow start, bogey-bogey, and I thought maybe this isn’t so good a day, but I made two more birdies coming in to make the turn and then I just lit it up on the back nine - putting really hot and hitting it really good," he said.

“I came through Qualifying School here in 2019 so I only have good memories about this golf course so it’s nice to come back and play well again. I lit it up in the last four rounds after making the cut on the number, so I have some really nice memories around here.”

After his bogey-bogey start, Veerman dragged himself back level with birdies on the sixth and eighth and then added further gains on the tenth, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and last in a scintillating back nine.

“I came through Qualifying School here in 2019 so I only have good memories about this golf course so it’s nice to come back and play well again - Johannes Veerman

Finn Pulkkanen also has good memories in Tarragona, having practised here with the Finnish team, and the 2017 European Challenge Tour Number One is seeking a first DP World Tour win on a course that feels like home.

"I changed my driver at the beginning of the week so it felt good," he said. "I have a lot of birdies.

“I have played 50 rounds here before because my national team used to come and practise here, so it’s almost like a home course.

"I just hit it solid and made some putts. I think the greens softened up a lot after the rain so that made it easier. The greens on Tuesday were quite tough and then they were slower after the rain.

"The rough was wet so you want to be on the fairway but my driving was really good so I didn’t need to worry about the rough and that helped a lot.”

Pulkkanen started his round with a bogey on the tenth but hit straight back, adding a hat-trick from the 13th and more gains on the first, seventh and eighth.

Du Plessis already has two top tens to his name this season and he was bogey-free on day one, picking up shots on the 12th, 13th, 16th, 18th, fourth and seventh.

Law was bogey-free in his round, while Senior dropped a single shot, with Højgaard chipping in on the second and adding four further birdies in the next six holes before making seven straight pars.

Four birdies in a row from the tenth had put Migliozzi in a share of the lead but he bogeyed the 16th to sit a shot ahead of home pair Pep Angles and Adrian Otaegui, England's Ashley Chesters, Scotland's Scott Jamieson, Australian Jake McLeod and Frenchman Clément Sordet.

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