Jonathan Yates fired a four-under par opening 68 to trail the leaders by just two strokes after day one of the Alps de Las Castillas.
The Naas professional traded six birdies and two bogeys to sit in a share of fourth at four-under as Portugal’s Vitor Londot Lopes and Netherland’s Vince Van Veen set the pace at six under-par (66).
Dubliner David Carey was also in fine form on day one, carding two eagles, two birdies and three bogeys in his three-under 69. The Island’s Paul McBride had an eagle ‘2’ amongst his opening 71 with Simon Bryan, Gary Hurley and Damien Murphy all at one-over par after first round 73s. Rhys Clarke completed the Irish scoring at five-over at Las Pinaillas Club de Golf in Albacete.
The beautiful and challenging course designed by the great Seve Ballesteros some 150km west of Valencia, plays host to the ninth Alps Tour event of the 2021 season and the two players at the top showed the finest form on the first day, although they are closely followed by a list of strong contenders, with 39 players returning an under-par scorecard.
Vitor Londot Lopes, who will celebrate his 25th birthday in just ten days, was 2nd one month ago at the Open de La Mirabelle D’Or in France and is presently 10th in the Order of Merit. The Portuguese golfer from Vilamoura played a solid bogey-free round:
“It was a good day on the course and I had the privilege to mark an eagle-3 on hole 11, and four birdies. Of course, we golfers are never fully satisfied and always want something more, and I feel I could have saved a couple more shots, but the conditions of the course were very good, with some tricky wind that could come from all directions. I stuck to my game plan, and I think I did it ok. Hopefully, I will keep on making the good decisions and hit good shots in the next two days,” said Londot Lopes.
Alongside Londot Lopes at the top of the standings is Netherland’s Vince Van Veen, 25, who is playing in his third Alps Tour season and is currently n. 53 in the ranking. He carded 8 birdies and two bogeys to earn his share of the lead:
“It’s been a bit of an up-and-down round, I did not get off to a good start and I fought to find my way round this golf course, then after probably six-seven holes I settled my golf swing and started hitting better shots, and obviously some quite good putts went in for my 6-under,” said the Dutch player who has a 9th spot as his best performance up to now.
“I did find myself in this position in the past, actually it happened on the previous tournament we played in Italy, so now I’m getting more familiar with being on top of the leaderboard and I start feeling more confident.
“I like the course very much, it is challenging and although it’s not particularly long, the greens are demanding and sometimes if you are on the wrong side of the fairway you cannot hit it close to the flag. Basically, that is what I’ve been trying to do today, find the good spots on the course and I did it properly. I feel my game is improving and I like where I’m standing now.”
The Alps de Las Castillas can count on a field of 130 players from 15 countries, and on the sponsorship of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, the Federation of Castilla La Mancha and the Federation of Castilla León, and the support of the Golf Club Las Pinaíllas, the City of Albacete, the Provincial Council of Albacete, the Junta de Castilla La Mancha, the Consejo Superior de Deportes, Extrual, Allianz, AON, EDP Solar, Kyocera, Tag Heuer, as well as with the collaboration of El Corte Inglés Albacete, Bodegas Ayuso, Panadería Alejo, Miguelitos de la Roda, NextCaddy. JGolf is the organizing company of the Alps de las Castillas, a tournament that supports the celebration of the Solheim Cup 2023.
- First round scores: click here or check on the Alps Tour Golf app.