ASH, England (AP) — Anders Hansen eagled his 17th hole in a 7-under 65 on Thursday that gave him one-stroke lead after the first round of the European Open.
The Dane holed a difficult chip at the 563-yard par-5 No. 8 at The London Club to move ahead of early leaders Peter Hanson of Sweden and Thomas Aiken of South Africa. Sam Little of England and Jyoti Randhawa of India also shot 66.
“The chip was awkward, but we worked out a plan how to play it, found a spot where I could land it and it worked out beautifully,” said Hansen, who started his round at No. 10.
Hanson, meanwhile, said his play was boosted by the hole-in-one he made in a playoff Monday to help him grab the last European spot in next month’s U.S. Open.
“And with everybody still congratulating me today, you get so much energy out of it,” the Swede said. “That had a lot to do with today. So it felt really easy. I was striking it really easy, iron shots were very nice and I made a bunch of putts.”
Ben Curtis had a 68 and John Daly had a 71, but other big names struggled.
Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell had an 80, Henrik Stenson had a 76 and defending champion Ross Fisher struggled to a 73 – 10 strokes off the 63 he had in his first round last year, when he won by seven strokes.
Irish Open champion Shane Lowry, who is playing his first event as a pro after winning 11 days ago as an amateur, shot a 78.
“I didn’t have too many expectations. I felt a bit flat, I suppose, and didn’t play great,” Lowry said. “I’m actually glad to have that round over.”
Sergio Garcia of Spain, the runner-up last year, double-bogeyed his first hole but then had a run of birdie-birdie-eagle on his second nine to finish with a 69.
Garcia hooked his opening drive at the 10th into heavy rough beside the lake and needed two shots just to chop back out to the fairway.
“I didn’t hit that bad of a shot, but unfortunately it found the hazard,” he said. “To tell the truth I didn’t play that poorly on the front nine. I just got punished really hard for a couple of shots I missed.”