English trio Dale Whitnell, Sam Horsfield and Callum Shinkwin lead the way after the first round of the Soudal Open. They each fired opening 65s at Rinkven International Golf Club on Thursday morning, and with no-one able to catch them in the afternoon, they head into the second round one clear of the chasing pack.
It had looked as though Whitnell might prove impossible to catch on day one, after he notched nine birdies in his opening 16 holes, before a double bogey-bogey finish meant he had to settle for a 65.
Yannik Paul, Jeff Winther, Alexander Björk, Adrian Meronk and Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Nacho Elvira finished day one in a tie for fourth on five under par.
A pair of amateurs were under par after the first day, with Charles Roeland firing a 69 and 14-year-old debutant Lev Grinberg shooting a 70 on his home course, while home favourite Thomas Pieters also opened with a 69.
Sam Horsfield: “I played really nicely. I kept the ball in play, this is a golf course where positioning is quite important off the tee and I was able to position it nicely to give myself a lot of good looks, and rolled in a few.
“I really struggled around the greens last week. I hadn’t chipped out of rough for three months or so since Dubai, so I struggled around the greens last week and spent a little extra time this week around them and hopefully that is all good.
“Zero (on setting goals). Literally zero. Just trying to stay healthy and play some good golf in between and see what happens.”
Dale Whitnell: “You can only take the positives really. I have been sort of feeling like the game has been getting there, I have struggled the last six weeks or so with a bit of form and swing changes, it has not been quite where I have wanted it to be, but the first 16 holes was flawless. Obviously, it has not bedded in yet, but time for that on the range this afternoon.
“I am making a few changes with Craig Lockwood, my coach, but it’s minimal and nothing massive. I missed the cut the last three weeks by three shots, two shots, one shot, and I was six over par for 21 holes at The Belfry and got back to one over, almost made the cut. I am trying to focus on the process rather than the outcome.
“A bit more consistency. My putting has been fairly good but there is still room for improvement. It’s just the knockdown shots that I am not quite where I need to be, swing tends to get a little bit short and then I come across it with the open clubface which is what I have done the last couple of holes, so just need to work on that a little bit and I will be good to go.”
Callum Shinkwin: “I wasn’t really going to be playing today actually, I’ve had a wrist issue from yesterday and on the range it just erupted straight up my arm and I went into the office to see if their was a first reserve around and they said they were in already and had no one else there, so go play if you can and if you can’t just walk in. Four holes in I was like, it’ not looking good, and then I shot six under.
“It happened in the pro-am yesterday, just on a drive, it is a part of my swing which has not been working very well at the moment, I just twinged it and nerve damage we think, but nothing a bit of paracetamol can’t fix.
“It all depends on how you approach the tee shots. You can take the course on but it is risk and reward for a lot of them. It’s a golf course like a parkland you play back at home, where it gets very dry on the fairways and the greens firm but it’s quite lush around the edges, so you have to make sure the ball is under control.”
Thomas Pieters: “I thought I played pretty well. I made a couple nice par saves at the end, 16 and 17, pretty pleased with today.
“It is amazing knowing 50 percent of the people in the crowd and they were cheering for all three of us. I had a fantastic group with Guido and Ryan today and I think all three of us played well, we had a good vibe out in the group and hopefully more of the same tomorrow.
“I am going to take my daughter home now after I do some putting and put her to bed at 7pm and then I’ll go to bed at 8pm, so it’s pretty nice.
“You have some good opportunities on this course, especially if you have smooth greens in the morning as that definitely helps, we had a couple bumpy ones this afternoon but it’s the same for everyone.”
Round One Scores
65 D WHITNELL (ENG), S HORSFIELD (ENG), C SHINKWIN (ENG),
66 A QUIROS (ESP), J WINTHER (DEN), Y PAUL (GER), A BJ?RK (SWE), A MERONK (POL), N ELVIRA (ESP),
67 O BEKKER (RSA), E FERGUSON (SCO), G GREEN (MAS), P WARING (ENG),
68 H DU PLESSIS (RSA), J HANSEN (DEN), M JORDAN (ENG), R FOX (NZL), F LAPORTA (ITA), R JACQUELIN (FRA), R MCEVOY (ENG), R ROUSSEL (FRA), A HIDALGO (ESP), M SCHMITT (GER), B WIESBERGER (AUT), C SYME (SCO),
69 A CHESTERS (ENG), T PIETERS (BEL), G MIGLIOZZI (ITA), J MORRISON (ENG), E MOLINARI (ITA), R SANTOS (POR), S CROCKER (USA), J DANTORP (SWE), J SJOHOLM (SWE), J CAMPILLO (ESP), V PEREZ (FRA), B STONE (RSA), W BESSELING (NED), D VAN DRIEL (NED), E KOFSTAD (NOR), R MANSELL (ENG), L VAN MEIJEL (NED), C ROELAND (AM) (BEL), N KEARNEY (IRL),
70 G PORTEOUS (ENG), V DUBUISSON (FRA), C HANNA (USA), B RITTHAMMER (GER), J CALDWELL (NIR), F ZANOTTI (PAR), M SCHMID (GER), D HUIZING (NED), A WILSON (ENG), O LIESER (CZE), M SIEM (GER), A WU (CHN), G FORREST (SCO), H LONG (GER), M SCHNEIDER (GER), M KAWAMURA (JPN), K ULENAERS (BEL), J JANEWATTANANOND (THA), J STALTER (FRA), S CHAWRASIA (IND), L GRINBERG (AM) (UKR), J GEARY (NZL),
71 G WATREMEZ (BEL), F LACROIX (FRA), T DETRY (BEL), D HOWELL (ENG), O FARR (WAL), A SULLIVAN (ENG), P FIGUEIREDO (POR), L NEMECZ (AUT), H LEON (CHI), A CA?IZARES (ESP), T LAWRENCE (RSA), G COETZEE (RSA), R KARLBERG (SWE), A OTAEGUI (ESP), D DRYSDALE (SCO), R RAMSAY (SCO), S TARRIO (ESP), S BROWN (ENG), J SURI (USA), W ORMSBY (AUS),
72 J RITCHIE (RSA), J LUITEN (NED), Z MURRAY (AUS), G STORM (ENG), N M?LLER (DEN), J CATLIN (USA), R GOUVEIA (POR), N COLSAERTS (BEL), B STOW (ENG), D COUPLAND (ENG), J KENNEGARD (SWE), M FORD (ENG),
73 S SODERBERG (SWE), D GAVINS (ENG), M LORENZO-VERA (FRA), S SHARMA (IND), C PIGEM (ESP), G HAVRET (FRA), C SORDET (FRA), K JOHANNESSEN (NOR), S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP), C SHARVIN (NIR), C PAISLEY (ENG), N BERTASIO (ITA), J GUERRIER (FRA), L THEYS (AM) (BEL),
74 A ROZNER (FRA), O FISHER (ENG), J LAGERGREN (SWE), J DONALDSON (WAL), M ANTCLIFF (AUS), G FDEZ-CASTA?O (ESP), L DE JAGER (RSA), P ANGLES (ESP), J THOMSON (ENG), C BRING (DEN), J MEYER DE BECO (AM) (BEL), S GALLACHER (SCO), H ZHANG (CHN), L BJERREGAARD (DEN), R MCGOWAN (ENG), E PEPPERELL (ENG), L BUIJS (BEL), G SNOW (KEN),
75 D HORSEY (ENG), R CABRERA BELLO (ESP), L GAGLI (ITA), N VON DELLINGSHAUSEN (GER), L SLATTERY (ENG), J SKEET (AM) (BEL), B DREDGE (WAL), R PARATORE (ITA), Z LOMBARD (RSA), Y VAN DOREN (BEL), A DE BONDT (BEL), S CHEGE (KEN),
76 M WARREN (SCO), M SOUTHGATE (ENG), T BJ?RN (DEN), J GONNET (FRA), J SINGH BRAR (ENG), C MIVIS (BEL), J TOLLENAIRE (AM) (BEL), T TREE (ENG),
77 W NIENABER (RSA), A COHEN (ISR), B EASTON (RSA),
79 B HEBERT (FRA), H PORTEOUS (RSA),
80 N LEMKE (SWE),