Jonathan Caldwell is the best of the Irish after day one at the inaugural Celtic Classic at the Celtic Manor Resort.
Caldwell returned a round of -3 (68) which was a bit of a mixed bag containing four birdies and three bogeys but the highlight of his day was undoubtedly his eagle ‘2’ on the par four 15th. The Northern Irish golfer finds himself T22, just four shots off the lead held by Thomas Pieters heading to the second round.
Of the other Irish players in the field Ardglass native Cormac Sharvin is T73 after a level par round while Gavin Moynihan ensured a difficult day, carding a three over par round which included six bogeys and he is well down the field in T108.
Paul McGinley is currently bringing up the rear for the Irish contingent after a four over par tally which included two double bogeys on the 3rd and 7th.
At the head of proceedings Thomas Pieters holds a one shot lead on his return to golf following a superb first round 64.
The 28-year-old Belgian has not played since the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in March but he showed no sign of rust at the Celtic Manor resort with a seven under par round that included eight birdies and a single bogey.
The four-time European Tour winner, who became a father for the first time to daughter Florence during the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, never looked back after dropping his only shot of the day on the second, coming home in 29 to move one shot clear of England’s Toby Tree and Australian Jake McLeod.
“I putted well and kept my ball in play, so I didn’t really get myself in trouble. It was tough pulling clubs sometimes and I put some new grips on which were very slippery, so I was struggling with that all day,” said Pieters.
“(The chip in on 17) was a little Pete Cowen special. It was grass against us, a little downhill so I tried to draw it, hit my spot and lucky it went it. It was a good shot.
“Fatherhood has been fantastic. I miss my little baby girl, but I am thankful I can play golf right now. It is the first event in five months, so it feels nice to get out there and actually put a score down.”
Tree also only dropped a single shot on the second hole in his six under par round of 65, while McLeod eagled the last to jump in to a share of second place. “I loved it. It’s a bit different to what we have played the last few weeks – a bit bigger, longer. It’s in great nick. It was a pleasure this morning, good weather, no wind, said Tree.”
Meanwhile, Italian Edoardo Molinari – who starred in Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup win at the Newport venue – is a shot further back on five under par, alongside his compatriot Guido Migliozzi and commented; “A 66 is always nice – a birdie at the last as well. It’s always nice coming back here, obviously I have good memories. It’s a golf course where in The Ryder Cup year I played well before The Ryder Cup, so it definitely suits my eye. I’ve had quite a few good finishes here in the past. Good memories both from The Ryder Cup and other tournaments.”