Kearney & Caldwell well positioned after first round at the Soudal Open

Adam McKendry

Niall Kearney (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Solid starts from both Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell have them positioned well after the opening round of the Soudal Open in Belgium on the DP World Tour.

Four birdies and two bogeys from Kearney had him in the clubhouse with a two-under 69, while Caldwell followed him in with two birdies and a bogey for a one-under 70, with both above the projected cut mark as it stands.

Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin is also there or thereabouts despite three bogeys and a birdie leading to a two-over 73 at Rinkven International Golf Club, but in a share of 99th he knows a good round on Friday will have him in for the weekend, too.

Kearney is still four shots off the lead after day one, however, with the English trio of Sam Horsfield, Dave Whitnell and Callum Shinkwin all carding six-under 65s to open up in Belgium.

Royal Dublin man Kearney was the most impressive of the Irish trio, although he will be frustrated by bogeys at the final hole of both of his nines, which dropped him back after birdies at the first, seventh, 11th and 15th holes had him in a good position.

It was a less dramatic day for Caldwell, though, the Clandeboye ace posting just one bogey at the par-three second on his front nine before bouncing back strongly on his back nine with birdies at the 11th and 15th to finish under-par.

Sharvin will need to go low on Friday to make it into the weekend, an early birdie at the par-three second cancelled out by dropped shots at the fourth, seventh and 13th, but he’s not out of touch with the top-65.

Meanwhile, although he sits tied for the lead, Whitnell will be very disappointed with his finish as he reached the 17th tee at nine-under-par after nine birdies and with a slim chance of a 59, only to finish double-bogey, bogey to drop back to six-under.

“You can only take the positives really. I have been sort of feeling like the game has been getting there, I have struggled the last six weeks or so with a bit of form and swing changes, it has not been quite where I have wanted it to be, but the first 16 holes were flawless,” said Whitnell.

That has him tied with fellow countrymen Horsfield and Shinkwin, who also finished with 65s to give them a one-shot lead over a six-strong group of players at five-under-par, including Poland’s Adrian Meronk.

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