Borja Virto posted his lowest competitive round in almost three years as he grabbed a share of a five-way tie for the lead after the first day of the Range Servant Challenge by Hinton Golf.
The Spaniard carded a seven under par round of 65 to join Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand, Poland’s Mateusz Gradecki, Scotland’s Craig Howie and Norway’s Espen Kofstad at the top of the leaderboard after bad weather caused a three-hour delay to proceedings on the first day at Hinton Golf Club.
They lead by one from Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde, Swede Mikael Lindberg and Germany’s Hurly Long, who are all tied sixth on six under par alongside Austria’s Timon Baltl, who will be required to finish his first round on Friday after day one was suspended due to darkness.
Spain’s Virto, a two-time European Challenge Tour winner, holed a lengthy birdie putt on the final hole to move to seven under par and take some positive momentum into tomorrow’s second round.
“I’m really happy with the way I played today,” he said. “It’s really nice to start with seven under. I haven’t gone that low in a very long time actually, so I was really pleased with today.
“For the first 12 holes, I played really well from tee to green and made nice up and downs for birdie on the par fives. I left myself a lot of birdie chances and made most of them from five or six feet.
“The putt on 18 is a big boost to start the round tomorrow, because I was struggling a bit on the last five holes, just grinding to try and finish the score. It was a nice bonus.”
Norwegian Kofstad did not play a practice round at Hinton Golf Club after a long journey to Malmö from South Africa and he believes his pressure-free approach paid dividends in the opening round.
“It was a very nice round,” he said. “I stayed within myself all day. I didn’t play a practice round yesterday, I just walked the course and decided on the lines I wanted to hit. I’ve never hit a bad golf shot on this golf course before so it was nice to come out just free and I played really nicely.
“We had two cancelled flights on our way here, so we arrived on Tuesday night as we drove all the way from Stockholm and then I was just so tired yesterday.”
Six players share tenth place on five under par at the end of day one, with 21 players a shot further back on four under par in a tie for 16th place.
The first round of the Range Servant Challenge by Hinton Golf was suspended due to darkness at 9:03pm local time and will resume at 8:00am on Friday May 14. There is a 30-minute delay to all original round two tee times.