NICOLAS Colsaerts narrowly failed to record the European Tour’s first round of 59 as he made a blistering start at the Portugal Masters.
The Belgian almost earned a place in history as a long-range putt on the 18th green at Oceânico Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura shaved the edge of the hole.
That meant Colsaerts, who hit a European Tour record 447-yard drive last month, had to settle for a first-round 60 but it was still nevertheless a superb opening that put him in charge on 11 under.
Colsaerts completed his round shortly before the day’s play was abandoned when a torrential downpour flooded parts of the course. His closest challengers were Glaswegian Scott Jamieson and Frenchman Alexander Levy, who both signed for eight-under-par 63s.
Spain’s Adrian Otaegui was seven under after 14 holes when play was washed out, meaning he could yet get close to Colsaerts’ mark when play resumes today. Fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello was in the clubhouse on seven under after a 64.
Jamieson posted his mark early with a nine-birdie round but the day belonged to Colsaerts, who hit the ground running as he set off in pursuit of the Scot.
He birdied the first, fourth and fifth and then sank four more birdies in succession around the turn. The fabled 59, never achieved in 42 years of the European Tour, then became a possibility as he drove the green at the par-four 15th and holed for eagle.
A second eagle at the 17th left him needing to pick up one more stroke at the last, but his 18-foot birdie putt there stopped, agonisingly, millimetres left of the hole. He tapped in for par and gestured to a camera with thumb and forefinger as he walked away, indicating how close he had come. “Still cant believe that putt on 18 didnt drop for magical 59 #personalbest,” Colsaerts later tweeted.
Oliver Wilson, the fairytale winner in Scotland last week, carded 72, while Paul McGinley, Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain, is in a tie for 18th after a four-under 67. Another Scot, Chris Doak, was among four players to shoot 65.