Great Dane and Twenty Ten course steal the show
9:00pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in Sport
THE Twenty Ten course stole the show on day one of the ISPS Handa Wales Open, along with another unheralded Dane.
The 2010 Ryder Cup course is in absolutely pristine condition and has been heralded for being a superb test for the players this week, a view endorsed by the wildly fluctuating scoring as the 14th Wales Open.
However, that didn’t stop Espen Kofstad ripping the place up, firing a brilliant round off 66 to make himself the Celtic Manor’s latest great Dane.
And just like previous Wales Open winners Jeppe Hulduhl and Steen Tinning, Kofstad is chasing a maiden European Tour title, not to mention struggling to retain his card.
Kofstad was in contention throughout a competitive round but had slipped back to two-under par after negotiating the tough 14th. However, his finish was scarcely credible, three successive birdies and an eagle on 18 taking him to seven under par.
And it was all the more special as he was playing with Ireland’s Paul McGinley, the next European Ryder Cup captain with this the first ranking event for the 2015 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“Without a doubt it’s my best round on the European Tour,” Kofstad said after he holed a splendid bunker shot on 18 for eagle. “Being here and playing with Paul McGinley, its inspiring stuff, just to be here at all.
“It’s the Celtic Manor, the Ryder Cup was played here... it’s just good stuff around me all the time.”
McGinley finished nicely himself at one under par, but there were some horror rounds for some of the bigger names at the event.
Open champion in 2012 Darren Clarke shot 78 by doing a ‘reverse Kofstad’ going along fine until he racked up a triple bogey at 15, double bogey at 16 and double bogey at 17.
Miguel Angel Jimenez also suffered, shooting 77 while two of the other elder statesman of the European Tour started beautifully, Jose Olazabal level par and Thomas Bjorn just one over, while Ross Fisher also looks well positioned at level par. Mikko Ilonen shot two under despite losing his clubs at his hotel.
Bristolian Chris Wood is two behind Kelsted at five under and is hopeful he can contend this week.
“This is obviously a good first round for me,” he said.
“I like it here; it’s half an hour over the bridge and the golf course sets up really nicely for me. I feel comfortable on the greens.”
The tournament organisers were said to be delighted by the fluctuating scoring, Kelsted’s 64 in contrast to several round of 80 or more, including Welshman Sion Bebb and former Wales Open winner Simon Khan.
Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee, however, remains well-placed; he shot an opening level par round of 71. Another player to watch could be England’s Robert Rock, going well after an opening 68.
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