Monday, May 20, 2024

Eight players share day one lead at Challenge de Espana – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Eight players, including Spaniards Joel Moscatel, Victor Garcia Broto and Pep Angles, share a one stroke lead at the top of a congested Challenge de España leaderboard after day one at Real Club Sevilla Golf.

Dermot McElroy leads the Irish charge just two shots off the pace after an opening round of 70 with Alex Maguire and Ronan Mullarney are one shot further back while Conor Purcell and Mark Power have their work cut out after rounds of 75 and 76 respectively.

Gary Hurley and Conor O’Rourke (77) and John Murphy (78) also have plenty to do in round two.

At the top of the leaderboard Moscatel, Broto and Angles all led the local charge, posting four under par rounds of 68 alongside Welshmen Jack Davidson and Rhys Enoch, Finn Tapio Pulkkanen, Dane Jonathan Gøth-Rasmussen and Englishman Sam Hutsby.

25-year-old Moscatel, who finished in a share of fourth place in the UAE Challenge two weeks ago, continued his impressive recent form by carding six birdies and two bogeys on the opening day.

The Spaniard was pleased with his start to the week, and feels his game is in a strong place through eight weeks of the season.

“I really like this course,” he said. “I’ve had a good season, with good feelings and although there’s still a long way to go, I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

“The greens are hard and fast, so I’m very happy with the round. I have Alberto (Calvo) on the bag this week who is an experienced caddie, and he gave me a lot of peace of mind.”

Broto also impressed on home soil, making six birdies – including five in his closing seven holes – one eagle and four bogeys on an eventful day in Andalucía.

The 27-year-old was one of the early starters and had to contend with strong winds before making the most of calm conditions on his back nine.

“The day started a little tricky,” he said. “It was windy at the beginning, but I then started playing really well.

“I haven’t been playing too well the last few weeks so starting in this way, in my home country, is really nice and I’m looking forward to the next few days.”

Angles birdied his closing hole to join the group on four under par and admits after taking time out away from the game, he now feels in a much better place.

“Last season was very hard for me,” he said. “I decided not to play for a while and now I’m playing very calmly and taking advantage of the opportunities I get.

“I was able to finish with a birdie and make the end of the round a little bit sweeter. You can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it.”

Davidson started his round on the back nine and made the turn one under par before recording five birdies and two bogeys on the way home to match the score posted by fellow Welshman Enoch.

Enoch currently sits fifth in the Road to Mallorca Rankings after returning to the winner’s circle at the season-opening SDC Open, and enjoyed the challenge of plotting his way around the parkland layout.

“The course is in fantastic shape,” he said. “It’s great to have to think your way around and to get punished for missing fairways. I love the challenge.

“I got lucky a couple of times but I had two great eagles where I holed a 20-foot and a 25-foot putt. Overall I’m very happy.”

Gøth-Rasmussen also enjoyed a strong opening day, with the Dane making five birdies, an eagle and three bogeys late on day one to join the early leaders.

Pulkkanen, who won the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2017, was six under par through 14 holes, and despite bogeying the 16th and 17th, was pleased with his performance.

“It was a great round and a good front nine,” he added. “The greens are fast and super firm so you just can’t miss them this week. You need to hit the ball well.

“I played the course on Tuesday morning and it was quite soft and felt fairly easy, and now it’s totally different. I think this is how it should be. You need to play really well to shoot low numbers.”

Hutsby was another to tee off in the afternoon, with calm conditions but firmer greens making scoring difficult.

The Englishman birdied three of his closing five holes to move alongside the leaders, with accuracy off the tee the key to his strong start.

“There’s not a lot of rough but it’s demanding enough off the tee,” he said. “If you can stay in the short stuff, it gives you more control into the firm greens which are really tricky.

“Overall I’ve hit the ball nicely and I’d have definitely taken that at the start of the round. The key around here is just to eliminate mistakes, and strategy plays a big part. I stayed patient and I had a good game plan. Hopefully that continues.”

The group lead by one shot from 13 others who share ninth, including Road to Mallorca Number One Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen and DP World Tour winners Gregory Bourdy and Ricardo Santos.

Round two gets underway at 8:00am local time, with Moscatel and Pulkkanen teeing off alongside Spaniard Pedro Oriol at 8:40am.


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