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Schwab leads the way after day one at The Belfry

Schwab leads the way after day one at The Belfry

Matthias Schwab continued his excellent form on the 2021 Race to Dubai as an opening 66 handed him the lead on day one of the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett.

Matthias Schwab

The Austrian made a big impression as he recorded ten top tens in the 2019 season and he is on course to eclipse that mark with four in his first nine events this campaign.

He recorded three of those in his last four events and carried that momentum to The Belfry, moving to six under and leading the way by one shot from Scotland's Calum Hill.

Schwab's fellow Austrian Bernd Wiesberger - a two time Rolex Series champion - was then at four under alongside English pair Richard Bland and James Morrison, French duo Matthieu Pavon and Clément Sordet, South African Louis de Jager, Italian Guido Migliozzi, German Max Schmitt and American Julian Suri.

Willett had spoken ahead of the event how he could see the difficulty in hosting and performing on the course but he showed no signs of distraction as he carded a three under par 69.

But Schwab was the star of the show as he goes in search of a first European Tour win after a 2020 season that saw him finish 99th on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex despite only missing three cuts, two of them being at the US PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

"I don’t know exactly what I need to do to make these good weeks great weeks because if I knew I would have done that already but it’s been a solid start to the season with some really nice finishes," he said.

"I couldn’t quite finish way up the leaderboard but the top tens are nice and I’m just trying to do the same going forward and hopefully it’ll just happen. I don’t think I need to change a whole lot because the game is feeling really solid."

He added: "I think it’s quite a good score, I’m really happy and pleased with the score but also with how I played.

"I had a slow start but an OK start and then had a really nice stretch from my seventh to 12th hole, played those in five under which was great.

Hopefully it’ll just happen. I don’t think I need to change a whole lot because the game is feeling really solid

"Overall I kept it together, one bogey and seven birdies so it’s been a really solid day."

Pavon was the man to set the very early pace as he played the back nine in level par after starting on the tenth and then rattled off five birdies in a row from the first before bogeying the seventh.

That dropped him back into what would become the large group at four under and he was leapfrogged by Schwab and Hill.

Schwab birdied the 13th but gave the shot straight back before he sandwiched an up-and-down from the sand on the par five 17th with birdies from 12 feet at the 16th and 18th to turn in 33.

An approach to seven feet on the second was followed by another birdie on a par five at the third but the 26-year-old soon had Hill for company.

After making gains on the 11th and 12th, the three time European Challenge Tour winner took advantage of the 15th and 17th to turn in 32.

An 18 footer on the second had him in a share of the lead but he bogeyed the next and, while he birdied the tough eighth, Schwab did the same from 18 feet to lead the way.

De Jager had got himself into a share of the lead as he birdied the 13th, 16th and 17th, eagled the third from 22 feet and then added another gain on the fifth but a bogey bogey finish dropped him back.

Wiesberger was in the water twice in his round but dropped just a single shot and a very long putt from the fringe on the 17th brought him an eagle which catapulted him to a 68.

Bland and Migliozzi were bogey free in their rounds, Morrison finished with three birdies, and Schmidt, Sordet and Suri all made six birdies and two bogeys.

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