David Drysdale handed himself a much-needed boost with a par-breaking effort as seven players shared the lead after the opening day of the inaugural Belgian Knockout in Antwerp.
Drysdale, who is sitting 210th in this season’s Race to Dubai after missing the cut in his last six events, is on course to be among the 64 players progressing to the weekend in the innovative event after a two-under 69. The four-birdie effort in testing conditions on a tricky course at Rinkven International Golf Club left the Cockburnspath man, pictured, sitting joint 14th.
Duncan Stewart, Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren were next best among the Scots with matching 71s on a day when rising Belgian star Thomas Detry delighted the home fans.
The 25-year-old carded a four-under 67 to set the pace along with English duo Matthew Baldwin and Ryan Evans, Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Denmark’s Jeff Winther, Gavin Green of Malaysia and Chilean Nico Geyger.
“What can I say, my first round here in Belgium in front of home crowds, shooting four-under and finishing with three birdies, it doesn’t get any better,” said Detry.
Local favourite Nicolas Colsaerts shot a bogey-free 68 but tournament host Thomas Pieters faces a fight to make the weekend after a two-over 73. “I didn’t play that bad” insisted the Ryder Cup man. “I just didn’t make anything on the greens. But seeing all my friends out there made it fun and enjoyable.”
On the Challenge Tour, Jack McDonald made a promising start in the Andalucia – Costa Del Sol Match Play 9 event at Valle Romano in Estepona. The Ayrshireman carded a four-under-par 67 to sit joint ninth, three shots behind pacesetter Stuart Manley of Wales.
In an event that will see the top 64 players after two rounds compete in a series of nine-hole contests, Scott Henry (68), David Law (69), Liam Johnston (69), Grant Forrest (70) and Ross Kellett (70) are also on course to make it to the weekend.
On the PGA EuroPro Tour, Paul O’Hara is in the mix heading into the final round of the season-opening Motocaddy Masters at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire.
Sitting on six-under after two 69s, the Tartan Tour No 1 sits alongside Ryder Cup player Philip Price and Will Enefer of England in joint second, two shots behind Irishman Stuart Grehan.
O’Hara, winner of the PGA Professionals Championship and Northern Open on his home circuit last season, is looking to hand himself a boost heading into next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
In the amateur ranks, Balmore’s James Wilson made the best start among a strong Scottish contingent in the Flogas Irish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Royal County Down.
On a day when home player Robert Dawson claimed a three-shot lead with a six-under 65, Wilson shot a 71 to sit joint 18th, just ahead of Euan Walker (Barassie) and Euan McIntosh (Turnhouse).