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Yannik Paul and Niklas Nørgaard set record-breaking pace in Sweden

Yannik Paul and Niklas Nørgaard set record-breaking pace in Sweden

Niklas Nørgaard and Yannik Paul took advantage of the early conditions to card a pair of course-record 65s and lead the way by one shot after day one of the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed.

The stunning Ullna Golf and Country Club is playing host to the DP World Tour for the first time as the innovative event - co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour - returns for its third edition.

A field of 78 men and 78 women are playing in the same groups for one prize fund and one trophy, with Linn Grant having made history as the first female winner of a DP World Tour event with a brilliant nine-shot victory 12 months ago.

It was the men who had the better of it early in 2023 but Thailand's Trichat Cheenglab was in the group one shot off the lead at six under alongside South African Louis de Jager, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix and England's Dale Whitnell.

With the wind always likely to increase at the lakeside venue as the day went on, Paul was the first player to take advantage of an early tee time, coming home in 30 after starting on the tenth to set the target at seven under.

Nørgaard's first shot of the week was his opening tee-shot after he injured his back water-skiing on Monday but the big-hitting Dane showed no signs of discomfort as a birdie-birdie finish saw him join Paul at the top of the leaderboard.

The German is enjoying an excellent season after claiming his maiden win on Mallorca in 2022, securing two runner-up finishes and sitting fifth on the European Points List for the Ryder Cup.

And despite picking up five shots in the second half of his round after starting on the tenth, he acknowledged the course got trickier as the day went on.

“I’m really pleased," he said. "My putter got to work on the back nine. I hit it close a few times but made a lot of nice putts which always helps. I’m really pleased with my round.

“I feel like it got colder as the day got started. It was really warm on like the third and fourth hole, not too windy. But then all of a sudden it got windier and the clouds came in. So, I think it played a bit trickier on the back nine."

Paul sandwiched a bogey on the 13th with birdies on the two par-fives on the back nine but really came to life after he made the turn.

A stunning second to tap-in range on the first was followed by a smart tee-shot on the par-three second and another birdie followed on the par-five third.

He then left himself ten feet at the sixth and put his tee-shot inside 15 feet on the next before another iron to ten feet brought an eighth birdie of the day.

Nørgaard also started on the tenth and the 31-year-old - who averages 328.33 yards off the tee this season - used his enormous distance to take advantage of the two par-fives on the back nine and reduce the 11th and 18th to easy birdies.

He dropped a shot on the second but a 363-yard drive helped set up an eagle on the par-five third before Nørgaard showed there is plenty more to his game as he chipped in on the eighth and got smartly up and down from the sand at the ninth in a birdie-birdie finish.

"It was a very weird day because I had no preparation at all," he said. "I hurt my back on Monday, so I come up here and I haven’t practised. I haven’t played the course, I just went out there with pretty much no expectations at all and it worked today.

“I was home for one day and went out water-skiing and hurt the back, I was going to fly out here Tuesday and I went to pick up my Trackman to go and fly and I couldn’t even lift it. That’s how bad it was. My girlfriend packed my suitcase and sent me away.

"I got up here and couldn’t do anything. Magically something happened and I feel totally fine now. I just haven’t done any prep at all."

Whitnell produced one of the shots of the day when he holed out for eagle from 96 yards on the ninth to join the group in second, while Lacroix was bogey-free and De Jager made eight birdies in his round.

Cheenglab produced the low-round of the afternoon, with a birdie-birdie finish taking her tally to seven for the day and leaving her a shot ahead of Spaniard Angel Hidalgo, Dane Søren Kjeldsen, German Nicolai von Dellingshausen and South African Justin Walters.

German Alexander Knappe earned himself a two-year “Care by Volvo” subscription of a fully electric Volvo EX30 as he made the 21st hole-in-one of the season, hitting a perfect nine-iron from 156 yards at the 14th.

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