Raymond Russell starts well in race for European Tour card
Raymond Russell led the Scottish charge at the Challenge Tour’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final yesterday, boosting his chances of gaining a European Tour card with a five-under-par 66 in the first round.
At 22nd place in the Challenge Tour rankings, Russell is one spot away from promotion, and he opened his account in Italy with six birdies and a bogey to lie tied seventh, two shots off the lead held by Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera and Italian Marco Crespi.
“It was nice to finish with two birdies,” said the 40-year-old. “It was a very solid round. I hit a bad tee shot off the first and went into a bunker, but, apart from that, it was stress-free golf.
“There are a lot of chances out there. With the greens being this soft, it’s very scoreable. If you’re on the fairway you can really have a go. It’s trickier from the rough, obviously, but it’s not very thick.
“This is my sixth week in a row, but I’m feeling fine. I knew I was going to play this stretch so I’ve tried to manage my practice accordingly to make sure I’m fresh. I’ve maybe not played practice rounds, but instead walked the course. I’ve tried to conserve my energy as much as possible.”
Fellow Scot Chris Doak, currently tenth in the rankings, signed for a two-under-par 69, while Scott Henry and Andrew McArthur were further back after posting rounds of 70 and 72 respectively.
Doak said: “There is still plenty of time to go. A few seven-under rounds would do nicely now. I’m just happy to be here because my back was sore on Monday, but the physio sorted it out for me.
“I am not too bothered about rankings positions this week. I just want to play the golf and see what happens. Nothing really went my way today. I didn’t get in any bother all day, but the ball just didn’t drop.”
Henry had two eagles and three bogeys in a turbulent round and said: “It was lazy, sloppy golf with the odd moment of magic thrown in. To have no birdies and two eagles is a strange one.
“I was really ill last week in Copenhagen and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from that. Mentally I’m very tired as well.”
The top 45 players in the rankings qualified for the €330,000 season-ending tournament, at the end of which the top 21 players earn a card for the 2013 European Tour campaign – with Magnus A Carlsson’s European Tour ranking meaning he will retain his card via The Race to Dubai and drops out of the Challenge Tour rankings for those purposes.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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