Jonathan Caldwell shot a three-under-par 68 to sit inside the top-30 as the best of the Irish at the Indoor Golf Group Challenge in Sweden.
Caldwell mixed seven birdies with four bogeys to sit in 29th place, five off the lead at Landeryds Golf Club.
Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Follet-Smith shot an impressive eight-under 63 to lead by two strokes. Follet-Smith’s round included a five-under 30 on the front nine in which he was six-under through seven holes.
The 29-year-old, who secured a maiden win on the Challenge Tour when he triumphed at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open in February, was pleased to get off to a good start in the second of back-to-back weeks in Sweden.
“Anyone would be happy with that start,” he said. “I think all of us aspire to practice and then put those kinds of rounds together. To do it in the first round of the tournament is always a nice bonus as it opens you up for a good week.
“I got off to a hot start on the front nine. I think I was six under through seven. I wasn’t thinking about it too much, I was just happy that I was putting well. I struggled with my putting last week but today I was hitting it close and making some good putts.”
Follett-Smith, who sits 15th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings, holed long birdie putts on hole 15 and 17 but thinks distance control with his irons was key to a fast start.
“Playing towards the slopes on the greens instead of right at the flags is important,” he added. “I think my distance control was right on check and I took my opportunities with the putter as they came.
“If you’re going straight at the flag I don’t think you’re going to keep it close, and with the greens being quite big, you’ll have some long distance putts occasionally.
“I’ll prepare for tomorrow the same as if I’d shot a 75 but probably with a smile on my face. I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
There is a four way tie for second place between Joakim Wikstrom, Lorenzo Scalise, amateur Linus Jonsson and Jeppe Kristian Anderson, who all shot six-under 65s.
Lucas Bjierregaard, Tom Lewis and Alfie Plant are among those in the big group on five-under-par.
Dermot McElroy recovered from a double bogey on his 11th hole of the day to shoot a two-under 69. It was a tough day for the rest of the Irish as Cormac Sharvin shot a 73, Stuart Grehan shot a 74 and Niall Kearney shot a 76 to sit well outside the cut line.
Day two gets under way at 7:30 am local time with Follett-Smith teeing off alongside German Velten Meyer and Norwegian Kristoffer Reitan at 1:20pm.
Jonathan Caldwell gets his second round underway at 12.40pm local time and Dermot McElroy is among the early starters at 9.30am.
Source : Irish Golfer