Connor Syme off to good start in Hero Open after going 'back to basics'

Scot bounces back from missed cut to card five-under 67 at Forest of Arden

Connor Syme chips on to the 18th green during the first round of the Hero Open at Marriott Forest of Arden. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Connor Syme chips on to the 18th green during the first round of the Hero Open at Marriott Forest of Arden. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Going "back to basics" helped Connor Syme return to form in the first round of the Hero Open after missing the cut in the opening event on the European Tour's new UK Swing.

The 25-year-old birdied six of the first 10 holes to set up an opening five-under-par 67 at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, near Birmingham.

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Leaving him in a tie for eighth, it was a good day's work by Syme after making an early exit from the Betfred British Masters at Close House last week after failing to fire on all cylinders in carding two 72s.

"Got off to a great start before stalling a bit, but I'm still happy," he said. "Five under was good and hopefully I can keep going with the front nine form.

"It felt like a week off last week, missing the cut in the morning, so it was good to recharge the batteries.

"Back to basics this week and just trying to fully knuckle down in the weeks ahead."

In his second season on the main tour, Syme had recorded four top-15 finishes in eight events before that rare off week in the circuit's full return in Northumberland.

"Probably still should have made the weekend as I had a good opportunity for birdie on 17 and didn't take it then had a bit of a nightmare on the last," he said.

"Overall still felt my game was OK. Certainly on the Thursday I played well but didn't get anything going.

"That's just golf, isn't it? You can't put your finger on it. You wish you had your best stuff every week, unfortunately that's not the way it goes. This week it's a good start."

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All six events on the UK Swing are being played in a "biosecure bubble", with players, caddies and event staff having to adhere to strict safety protocols.

"It's strange, though I feel like you've got to have a good mindset to be a pro golfer anyway," said Syme.

"The way you travel it can be lonely, but this takes it to a new level with how strict it is.

"You've got to do it. I certainly feel like I'm out here and there's pretty much no chance of me getting coronavirus, which is great.

"I have my X Box with me and I'll be travelling with that for the foreseeable as that passes a bit of time. Netflix is key and the X Box."

Syme's Modest! Golf stablemate Ewen Ferguson also made a promising start in the Midlands, carding six birdies as he signed for a four-under 68.

Richie Ramsay and Grant Forrest are also in the top 30 after matching 69s while Scott Jamieson had a 71.

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Calum Hill (72), Marc Warren (74) Liam Johnston (75, including a quintuple-bogey 10 at the 17th) and David Law (76) all face a battle to make the cut.

In his 500th European Tour appearance, David Drysdale was going along nicely on two-under before his momentum was halted by a triple-bogey 7 at the ninth.

The 45-year-old then covered the back nine in level-par as he had to settle for a one-over 73 at a venue where he finished in the top 10 in the 2002 English Open.

"Golf wasn’t quite where I’d have liked it to have been," admitted Drysdale. "I had a poor ninth hole, but other than that steady golf for 17 holes. I’ve enjoyed the day and I am determined to enjoy the week."

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Joy YatesEditorial Director