Robin Dawson found his groove with an opening five-under par 66 to trail Marcus Helligkilde’s lead by three strokes after day one of the B-NL Challenge Trophy at The Dutch.
Tramore pro Dawson raced out of the blocks with four birdies in his first five holes before a bogey on 8 halted momentum. Out in 32, Dawson opened his back nine with another birdie to return to four-under par before the round threatened to get away from him with bogeys at 11 and 12.
To his enormous credit, the 25-year old shrugged them off to pick up three more gains to the clubhouse, home and hosed in 66 and heading the Irish challenge from his tie for third ahead of day two.
EuroPro Tour regular Dermot McElroy proved once again that he’s well able to mix it on Europe’s secondary tour with four birdies in a two-under 69. Gavin Moynihan and Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith were at one-under, Michael Hoey sits at level while Kinsale’s John Murphy struggled to a two-over 73.
At the top, Helligkilde will take a two-stroke lead into day two after posting an impressive eight-under par opening round of 63 at The Dutch. The 24-year-old carded eight birdies in a blemish free round to move into pole position, two shots clear of Lukas Nemecz who signed for a six under par round of 65.
The Dane, who recently picked up his maiden European Challenge Tour victory at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge in wire-to-wire fashion, admitted he was mentally and physically exhausted and therefore, surprised himself with such a strong performance in round one in The Netherlands.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “18 minutes before my tee time I called my coach and told him I was too tired and had no golf game to give. He told me to focus on every single shot and just enjoy the company you’re in out there. Before this I thought I would miss the cut to be honest, but it just happened, and I was gaining about five strokes on the greens which was nice. I’m still tired and I’m looking forward to having a week off next week, but I’m delighted to shoot eight under today.
“Self-confidence is key, but I think the biggest part was having a plan today and just sticking to it. Sometimes I didn’t want to be out here but having a plan makes it so much easier to stick to it and execute it on every single shot and reflect on that.”
Helligkilde admits he was feeling apprehensive ahead of the first day at the B-NL Challenge Trophy l, but took the same tactical approach as in Finland, which yet again proved to be a success.
“I was worried about my game,” he said. “I know you have to hit good tee shots round here and my driver hasn’t been too good. To be honest, I do not know how I ended up eight under and right now it feels so crazy. I played the same as in Finland. I played conservative golf, aiming for the centre of the greens and luckily, I held a bunch of putts.”
The 24-year-old Dane was full of praise for The Dutch, a Colin Montgomerie designed course.
“It’s difficult for me to describe how tough it was because I played so well but the course is in such great condition. Yesterday, when I played the pro-am, I just stood on the tee box smiling because we had water hazards, great bunkers. We face amazing tee shots and approach shots all over the course.”
England’s Andrew Wilson, Swede Robin Petersson, Robin Dawson of Ireland and Dutchman Mike Toorop share third place on five under par, while Road to Mallorca Number One Santiago Tarrio is one of six players a shot further back on four under par.
The second round of the B-NL Challenge Trophy will begin at 7:30am local time, with Helligkilde teeing it up alongside Tarrio and Belgium’s Giovanni Tadiotto at 1:20pm.
- Full scoring HERE