South Africa’s Louis De Jager has a two-shot lead after the first round of the Portugal Masters having opened with an eight-under-par 63 in Vilamoura.
De Jager registered eight birdies in his bogey-free round, including five in his first seven holes yesterday.
The 32-year-old started the week 123rd in the Race to Dubai rankings as he looks to end Sunday in the top 117 and maintain his playing privileges for 2020.
De Jager’s compatriot Justin Walters, Englishman Oliver Fisher and Australia’s Jake McLeod are all on six under par.
Walters and Fisher – who produced the first 59 in European Tour history with his second round at this event last year – are 121st and 112th in the Race to Dubai respectively, while McLeod is 159th.
After shooting a 65, featuring seven birdies and a bogey, Fisher was quoted on europeantour.com as saying: “I’m just trying my best.
“The best thing I can do is go out there and be clear about what I’m doing and not let my mind wander too much and think ‘what if’.
“It’s a week I like and a course I like. I’ll go out and give it my best and stay in the moment as much as I can and see what happens.
“I actually played really well today but it’s funny to think I had to be six shots better to do that (59) again. It was a great day. This course has given low scores over the years – anything is possible out there. It’s nice to go out there with a bit of expectation after that good round last year.”
A group of seven players are a further shot back, including a pair of Fisher’s compatriots - Matthew Southgate and David Horsey.The others on five under are Italy’s Renato Paratore, South Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, South African duo Darren Fichardt and Brandon Stone and the USA’s Sihwan Kim.
Meanwhile, Bio Kim’s three-year ban from the Korean Tour for making an obscene gesture to spectators has been reduced to a year, according to Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo.
Kim’s ban was cut by the Korean Professional Golfers’ Association, but he must perform 120 hours of community service and a fine of 10 million won (£6,750) remains in place.
The 29-year-old South Korean won the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Open at the end of September, but was disciplined after raising his middle finger to the crowd after being put off by a phone camera while teeing off on the 16th in the final round.
Announcing the initial suspension, the Korean Tour said Kim had “damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behaviour.”