Cormac Sharvin was made to work for his even par round of 72 as he kept his tournament hopes alive on day one of the Hopps Open de Provence.
It was a round of liquorice all sorts for the Ardglass professional who traded four birdies with four bogeys on a day where momentum seemed unattainable.
With this week one of just three full-field events remaining on this year’s Challenge Tour campaign, Sharvin is looking good for a top-15 finish on the Road to Mallorca standings and the European Tour card that goes with it – he’s currently sitting in sixth.
Still, he’ll be hoping to leave nothing to chance as he goes in search of a big second round on Friday to catapult himself out of his share of 55th place and into contention on the weekend.
A fast pace has been set with Jeong Weon Ko’s opening round of 64, eight-under par, leading by two shots at the end of round one.
The French amateur, who is playing in just his third European Challenge Tour event, was in the first group to tee off at Golf International de Pont Royal this morning and he made the most of the calm conditions, carding seven birdies, an eagle and only one bogey.
The 21-year-old started steadily with six consecutive pars, before he picked up the pace with three successive gains ahead of the turn. The momentum continued into the back nine with birdies at the 11th and 12th before he made an eagle at the par five 14th.
He dropped his only shot of the day at the 15th hole but bounced back to finish his opening round with successive birdies at the Hopps Open de Provence.
With the wind swirling in the afternoon and the target set at eight under par, Ko was delighted with his work on home soil.
“I started playing nervously,” he said. “But as the round went on, I got more comfortable and the round got better and better. I had a good eagle plus a few putts went in and I played well.
“I had a nice birdie streak as well but that was unexpected – that’s golf, I guess.
“It helped being first off today. There was no wind and the course was at its easiest and it was easier than playing this afternoon.
“Over the last couple of days I’ve had some back and wrist problems so I wasn’t even sure if I could play, so at the start I was just hoping I could finish the round, and I managed to do that without any pain.
“I’m just trying to enjoy myself and do my best at moment.”
Countryman Julien Brun was the last amateur to win on the Challenge Tour when he clinched the ALLIANZ Golf Open Toulouse Metropole in 2012, and Ko has set his stall out following an impressive round on day one.
Canada’s Cockerill is the amateur’s closest rival, sitting two strokes behind at six under par, having closed his front nine with six consecutive birdies. A further shot behind Cockerill are Samuel del Val, Francesco Laporta and Connor Syme, who all signed for bogey-free rounds of 67, five under par, while a group of three players share fifth spot. Spaniard Pep Angles, New Zealand’s Josh Geary and Roppe Kakko of Finland all recorded rounds of 68 on day one.
Tramore’s Robin Dawson finds himself propping up the field after a nightmare nine-over par 81 to start his tournament.
The second round at the Hopps Open de Provence begins at 8:10am local time with Ko teeing off at 12:40pm.
Full scoring HERE
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