Caldwell just one shot off the pace as Bland leads in Denmark

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Caldwell just one shot off the pace as Bland leads in Denmark

Jonathan Caldwell (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Jonathan Caldwell was quick out of the traps with an opening four-under 67 to trail a leading quintet that includes recent winner Richard Bland by just a single stroke after day one of the Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA.

The Clandeboye professional has been struggling for results in recent weeks but got off to the ideal start in Denmark by trading six birdies with two bogeys to sit in a share of sixth at four-under. That was the best the Irish could muster on a tricky opening day with Paul Dunne and Niall Kearney in the middle of the pack at even par. Cormac Sharvin has a lot of work to do, however, to ensure weekend progress after posting a four-over 75.

At the head of affairs, having taken 478 European Tour events to win his first title, England’s Bland put himself in contention for back-to-back victories this week in Denmark. The 48-year-old became the European Tour’s oldest first-time winner at The Belfry a fortnight ago and a five-under par 66 left him in a share of the lead after the opening round.

Bland had an eagle on the par five eighth as well as four birdies and a single bogey to join defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, Korean Yikeun Chang, Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal and Finland’s Lauri Ruuska at the top of the leaderboard.

“I was just happy to get back out playing to be honest,” said Bland. “I hadn’t really done a lot last week, I played once with some friends and did a little bit of practice. I was coming in a little bit unprepared, but sometimes that’s not always a bad thing. I just tried to carry on where I left off and managed to do that.

“When I look back, my driving stats are probably quite poor today. I think there were six times today where we were looking to see if my ball was on the fairway or not, I think I hit three or four fairways but it felt like I hit 12. If I’d missed one it was by an inch or two.

“I felt like I drove the ball well – the stats won’t show that – but it’s important to hit the fairways this week because the ball is picking up a lot of mud. I putted nicely, seemed to have the pace of the greens really well. I had Tim ringing in my ears ‘be aggressive’. My pace was good and some went in, which was nice.”

Austrian Wiesberger moved into contention with a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth before eagling the eighth. The 35-year-old, defending the title he won in 2019 after last year’s event was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, then had bogeys at the ninth and 13th but finished with back-to-back gains, including a 30 footer on the last.

Ruuska’s round included a hole-in-one at the par-three 16th. The Finn usually plies his trade in the Nordic Golf League but was delighted to make the most of his National Spot exemption.

 

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