|Having taken 478 European Tour events to win his first title, England’s Richard Bland put himself in contention for back-to-back victories at the Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA.
The 48-year-old became the European Tour’s oldest first-time winner at The Belfry a fortnight ago and a five under par 66 left him in a share of the lead after the opening round in Denmark.
Bland had an eagle on the par five eighth as well as four birdies and a single bogey to join defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, Korean Yikeun Chang, Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal and Finland’s Lauri Ruuska at the top of the leaderboard.
Austrian Wiesberger moved into contention with a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth before eagling the eighth.
The 35-year-old, defending the title he won in 2019 after last year’s event was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, then had bogeys at the ninth and 13th but finished with back-to-back gains, including a 30 footer on the last.
Ruuska’s round included a hole-in-one at the par-three 16th. The Finn usually plies his trade in the Nordic Golf League but was delighted to make the most of his National Spot exemption.
Player QuotesRichard Bland: “I was just happy to get back out playing to be honest. I hadn’t really done a lot last week, I played once with some friends and did a little bit of practice. I was coming in a little bit unprepared, but sometimes that’s not always a bad thing. I just tried to carry on where I left off and managed to do that.
“When I look back, my driving stats are probably quite poor today. I think there were six times today where we were looking to see if my ball was on the fairway or not, I think I hit three or four fairways but it felt like I hit 12. If I’d missed one it was by an inch or two. I felt like I drove the ball well – the stats won’t show that – but it’s important to hit the fairways this week because the ball is picking up a lot of mud. I putted nicely, seemed to have the pace of the greens really well. I had Tim ringing in my ears ‘be aggressive’. My pace was good and some went in, which was nice.
Bernd Wiesberger: “I like it around here. It was a good day, a steady start but a lot of scoring in – like in the last five or six competitive rounds. Especially last week, it was nice to get a couple of early birdies – putts dropped and a bonus on the eighth. It turned to the tricky part of the golf course, I dropped a couple of shots there but stayed with it and was rewarded on the last two greens with some birdies. Quite a solid day and I’m very happy with the start.
It was windy out there. It has switched about 90 degrees, north, north-east which made the golf course play different compared to the Pro-Am yesterday where it played differently as well. You adapt and pick your targets. We had a pretty good game plan and executed it for most of it. A couple of putts dropped as well, which is something good for a first day.
We have a lot of golf left. The golf course can play really tricky if you’re slightly off with the wind and your execution, you can get in to trouble. It’s not like it’s guaranteed out there, an under-par round each day. I’ll just stay sharp and see good lines and commit to the shots I hit out there. If I do that I feel like I have a golf course in front of me that I can score well on.”
Pablo Larrazábal: “I really like this golf course. I played very good and I have very good memories from ’19. When you arrive at a golf course that suits your eye, it’s nice. The ones you have performed well at in the past, you always have those good memories. I played very good percentage golf today. We knew where to go, where to not go.
“I’m getting older. I just turned 38 and these guys are 20-21, hitting 50 yards longer than me. In conditions like these, in tricky conditions, everything levels out. It’s all about grinding out there and hitting shots and knowing how to move the ball from right to left, left to right, low, high. It’s not a bomber’s course. This is a European Tour golf course.”
Lauri Ruusk: “It’s ten years since I came to a European Tour event for the first time as a spectator and ten years since I last had a hole in one. A 50-degree wedge, 98 metres to the pin and it span back and went straight in the hole. It was a pretty awesome feeling. My first European Tour round, so it’s pretty nice.”
66 B WIESBERGER (AUT), L RUUSKA (FIN), R BLAND (ENG), P LARRAZ?BAL (ESP), Y CHANG (KOR),
67 J CALDWELL (NIR), L CANTER (ENG), D PAPADATOS (AUS), M SCHWAB (AUT),
68 M KAWAMURA (JPN), O FARR (WAL), W BESSELING (NED), J AXELSEN (DEN), J LUITEN (NED), T OLESEN (DEN), D LAW (SCO), R FISHER (ENG), A WU (CHN), D WHITNELL (ENG), N BERTASIO (ITA),
69 S BROWN (ENG), G MIGLIOZZI (ITA), R MACINTYRE (SCO), L BJERREGAARD (DEN), R LANGASQUE (FRA), S CROCKER (USA), M SIMONSEN (DEN), C PAISLEY (ENG), H PORTEOUS (RSA), J GEARY (NZL), R PARATORE (ITA), S KJELDSEN (DEN), N M?LLER (DEN), A LEVY (FRA), F LAPORTA (ITA), C SHINKWIN (ENG), J GUERRIER (FRA), P ANGLES (ESP), M SOUTHGATE (ENG),
70 E DE LA RIVA (ESP), J SMITH (ENG), S SHARMA (IND), S YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA), M ARMITAGE (ENG), J FELTON (AUS), M SCHMITT (GER), J SANDBORG (SWE), A OTAEGUI (ESP), J SCRIVENER (AUS), P BAEK (DEN), C WOOD (ENG), M SIEM (GER), T TREE (ENG), L VAN MEIJEL (NED),
71 P DUNNE (IRL), N H?JGAARD (DEN), N KEARNEY (IRL), W ORMSBY (AUS), R RAMSAY (SCO), S GALLACHER (SCO), P FIGUEIREDO (POR), M HELLIGKILDE (DEN), R MCEVOY (ENG), R FOX (NZL), C HILL (SCO), M LEE (AUS), G PORTEOUS (ENG), A BJ?RK (SWE), G FDEZ-CASTA?O (ESP), T DETRY (BEL), K BROBERG (SWE), R KARLBERG (SWE), J CAMPILLO (ESP), K KITAYAMA (USA), S HEISELE (GER), M PAVON (FRA), A CHESTERS (ENG), N LEMKE (SWE), J WINTHER (DEN), S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP), M LORENZO-VERA (FRA), D HORSEY (ENG), N ELVIRA (ESP), R ROUSSEL (FRA), C PIGEM (ESP),
72 A MERONK (POL), A RAI (ENG), R H?JGAARD (DEN), A ARNAUS (ESP), C SYME (SCO), R ROCK (ENG), L SLATTERY (ENG), J GONNET (FRA), T PULKKANEN (FIN), G HAVRET (FRA), E PEPPERELL (ENG), L JENSEN (DEN), R SCIOT-SIEGRIST (FRA), R ENOCH (WAL), B HEBERT (FRA), E MOLINARI (ITA), A DEL REY (ESP),
73 G STORM (ENG), B STONE (RSA), M FORD (ENG), A SULLIVAN (ENG), M SCHNEIDER (GER), M KEYSER (RSA), T GANDY (IMN), A SADDIER (FRA), J SENIOR (ENG), B RITTHAMMER (GER), P PETERSON (USA), A JOHNSTON (ENG), S HEND (AUS), M MADSEN (DEN), W NIENABER (RSA), M KIEFFER (GER), V DUBUISSON (FRA), N VON DELLINGSHAUSEN (GER), M JORDAN (ENG), J LAGERGREN (SWE), J MORRISON (ENG), A CA?IZARES (ESP),
74 B EVANS (ENG), D HOWELL (ENG), D DRYSDALE (SCO), T BJ?RN (DEN), J HARDING (RSA), G GREEN (MAS), S JAMIESON (SCO), L GAGLI (ITA),
75 M KORHONEN (FIN), D VAN DRIEL (NED), A COCKERILL (CAN), J VEERMAN (USA), S KIM (USA), S SODERBERG (SWE), M ANTCLIFF (AUS), J SURI (USA), C SHARVIN (NIR),
76 J HANSEN (DEN), J STALTER (FRA), T SIMSBY (USA),
77 J MCLEOD (AUS), C SORDET (FRA), P HANSON (SWE), D COUPLAND (ENG), R MANSELL (ENG), B POKE (DEN), L SCALISE (ITA), H LI (CHN), A GUEDRA (SWE),
79 A QUIROS (ESP),
84 J KASKE (FIN),
87 A PAVAN (ITA),