Paired together for the first two days play, both Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey seemed to enjoy each other’s company as the pair made solid starts to the European Tour’s Belgian Knockout in Antwerp.
Both players made the turn in 35 shots, with Hoey rock-solid with one birdie and eight pars while Moynihan was a little more erratic, carding three birdies and two bogeys as he reached the 10th at Rinkven International Golf Club.
Hoey picked up another gain at the par-3 12th to go two-under for his day but he immediately dropped one at 13 before frustratingly losing another shot at the last to sign for an even-par 72.
Moynihan went one shot better, trading one birdie and one bogey to mirror his front nine of 35 for a one-under par total that puts him in a share of 40th, with both players right in the mix at the innovative event heading into day two.
This week sees the full field play two days of strokeplay before a cut to 64 players, with separate playoffs to get each half of the draw down to 32 if necessary.
The remaining players will be seeded based on their performance on Thursday and Friday and then face off over nine holes of strokeplay knockout, with the player with the lowest score after nine holes advancing.
The first three rounds of knockout action will cut the field from 64 to eight on Saturday, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final taking place on Sunday to decide who will join Adrian Otaegui as a Belgian Knockout champion.
At the top, Anton Karlsson produced a stunning round of 63 on day one to put himself in pole position to claim the top seeding at the Belgian Knockout.
Swede Karlsson has had two top-10s since regaining his playing privileges at the 2018 Qualifying School to sit 111th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex, but found his form in spectacular style in Antwerp.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño was the closest challenger in that side of the draw at six under, a shot clear of Italian Lorenzo Gagli, England’s David Horsey, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and South African Justin Walters.1
Karlsson made five birdies in a row from the 13th to surge up the leaderboard and while he gave a shot back on the first, an approach to five feet at the fourth had him back at five under.
He then holed a monster putt on the par five fifth for eagle and another from similar range for a birdie on the next to jump clear.
“It was a great round of golf,” he said. “I’ve been playing some good golf lately, not getting any scores together is what it’s been feeling like but today it came together as a whole.
“My best day in a long while with the putter. It was tough for a while to actually miss a putt. During the back nine I kept rolling them in from wherever, really, which is always a nice feeling.”
Fernandez-Castaño is a seven time European Tour winner but had to regain his card at the Qualifying School in 2017 and has played 13 events so far this season despite a heavy travel schedule with his family based in Florida.
Incredibly, he decided to drive the nine hour journey from last week’s Made in Denmark presented by FREJA, but showed no ill effects as he birdied the third, fifth, sixth, eighth, 11th, 12th and 16th, with a single bogey on the ninth.
“We drove all the way from Aalborg,” he said. “It took us just over nine hours but it was a lot of fun, especially driving around Germany where there are no speed limits.
“I’m feeling great. I’ve hit the ball really well today, I’ve manged to keep the ball in play most of the time. Having all these tree lined courses it’s always about getting the ball in position and I think I did that very well.
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