Connor Syme storms into Celtic Classic lead after 63 in Wales

Fifer chasing maiden European Tour triumph at Celtic Manor

Connor Syme watches his chip shot at the 18th hole. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images

The 25-year-old Fifer followed opening rounds of 68 and 67 at Celtic Manor with an eight-under-par 63 – his lowest round on the circuit – to move 15-under-par in the latest event on the new UK Swing.

Syme, who finished second in the Shot Clock Masters in Austria in his rookie campaign in 2018, sits one ahead of England’s Sam Horsfield, who is bidding to follow up his breakthrough win in the Hero Open at Forest of Arden a fortnight ago.

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Belgian Thomas Pieters, who is playing in his first event for five months due to the coronavirus and the birth of his first child last month, was tied with Syme standing on the tee at the 15th, a driveable par 4.

However, a topped tee shot led to a triple-bogey there before also dropping a shot at the next to fall four behind the Scot after he’d stormed home in 30, five-under.

“I just played lovely, to be honest,” said Syme, who won the Turkish Airlines Challenge last year as he secured his seat back at the top table at the first attempt after narrowly losing his card at the end of the 2018 season. “I maybe didn’t play the front nine as well as I’d like, but I managed to get to three under through nine, which was great. I holed the putts that I had opportunities on, so it was a nice base to build on. It was nice throughout, really.

“I felt like I played well in Austria, the first event back, but was then a bit slow after that to start the UK Swing. I’m finding a bit of form. I made the cut at the Hero Open and then gradually a little bit better last week.

“I found something a little bit in my swing and I’m just rolling with that really.

“It’s a new experience for me. I’ve had a second place before, but this is the first time with a chance to win so I’m just going to take it as it comes. I’m excited, it’s a great opportunity and that’s all you can really hope for at the start of the week.”

Austrian Open winner Marc Warren sits joint-ninth on 10-under after a 65.

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