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Johannessen sets the pace in Madrid

Johannessen sets the pace in Madrid

Kristian Krogh Johannessen found his form in emphatic fashion to card an opening 63 and lead the way from a host of home favourites after day one of the Mutuactivos Open de España.

Kristian Krogh Johannessen

The Norwegian claimed the 20th card at the Qualifying School last year but missed his first nine cuts in a tough start to his rookie season on the European Tour.

He started the week at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid 235th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex but carded a career best round to get to eight under and lead the way by two from local hero Adri Arnaus.

Arnaus' playing partners and countrymen Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Jon Rahm were at five under, alongside South African Dean Burmester, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Italian Andrea Pavan and German Marcel Siem.

Had preferred lies not been in play, Johannessen would have entered the history books, with his 63 matching the course record and lowest opening round in the event's history, and he was determined to keep his cool in a new situation at the top of a European Tour leaderboard.

"It was a good round," he said. "I didn’t hit it perfectly but hit it in the right spots, even when I missed and I holed some good putts.

"I’m out there having fun and playing smart. It’s a tricky course but I’ve got a friend on the bag this week and we’re having fun out there.

"If you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool and play my own game."

Arnaus made a blistering start, registering birdies on the 13th, 16th, 17th and 18th, and an eagle on the par five 14th to jump to six under.

A poor tee shot on the second led to his only dropped shot of the day and players began gathering alongside him at five under, including his playing partners.

If you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool and play my own game

Cabrera Bello birded the fourth to go with gains on the tenth, 14th, 16th and 18th, while Rahm needed to take a more varied route to his 66.

The four time European Tour winner birdied the 14th, 15th and 17th but bogeyed 18th before picking the shot straight back up. An up-and-down on the par five fourth brought another gain before he holed from 15 feet at the eighth.

Arnaus had missed golden birdie opportunities on the seventh and eighth but he made no mistake on the ninth, holing from 15 feet to take the solo lead.

He soon had company in Johannessen, however, as the 24-year-old moved through the field.

Birdies on the 13th and 14th were followed by an eagle two on the next with a wedge from the rough but he bogeyed the 16th before picking the shot straight back up.

Back to back birdies on the fourth and fifth moved him into a share of the lead and further gains on the seventh and ninth moved him clear.

Siem and Pavan were bogey free in their rounds of 66, while Burmester and Donaldson both combined six birdies with a single bogey.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp, Samuel Del Val, Sihwan Kim, Zander Lombard, Matthew Nixon, Adrian Otaegui and Jason Scrivener were all four shots off the lead.

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