Carey & McKibbin make the most of late call-ups to Czech

Adam McKendry

David Carey (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Castleknock’s David Carey admits he came into this week’s D+D REAL Czech Challenge with few expectations but produced a fine opening round to sit near the top of the leaderboard early doors in Dříteč.

The Irishman posted five birdies and two bogeys on his way to a three-under 67 at Golf & Spa Kunětická Hora in the Czech Republic, which has him three shots off the early lead held by Denmark’s Martin Simonsen.

Carey has started to find a run of form having lost out in a play-off at the Abruzzo Alps Open on the Alps Tour, and he has since recorded two top-20 finishes on the third tier tour, and he was pleased with how he kicked off his first Challenge Tour event of the season.

“I’m happy with my day’s work, although I was disappointed to drop one on 16 – I had a bad lip-out there,” he reflected.

“I only got in on Tuesday and didn’t get a chance to play the front nine. I only played the back nine yesterday, so overall I’m happy with today’s round.

“I didn’t have any expectations coming here. I’m close to the top so I’ll take that and try and go better tomorrow.”

The 25-year-old opened with a bogey at the par-four third but immediately rectified with three straight birdies at his next three holes to shoot up the leaderboard, and he got to four-under with quick birdies on the back nine at the 11th and 13th, only to drop a shot on his way in at the par-four 16th.

“I hit a pretty good shot into the third but was probably one club out, so short-sided myself. But after that I hit a couple of nice shots on the next holes and made the putts as well,” he added.

“It’s not easy out there. You’ve got to keep the ball in play because the rough is so long and deep. You’ve got to reign it in and keep it on the short stuff.”

Meanwhile, Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin made the most of his late entry into the event with a two-under 68 that has him at the right end of the leaderboard at this early stage, despite only getting to Dříteč on Wednesday morning.

The 19-year-old, who was only able to walk the course yesterday evening by way of preparations, had reached five-under after 13 holes of his round and looked on for an incredible score but frustratingly dropped three shots in his final five holes to fall back.

“It was good. I had a disappointing finish, but I don’t think I did too much wrong coming in, maybe a few unlucky breaks. It was a solid round despite not ever playing the course before,” said McKibbin.

“After last week I thought I had a good chance of getting in as (the entry list) was dropping and dropping. On Monday I was first or second reserve and I thought I wouldn’t get in, but when I looked on Tuesday I was in.

“I flew over yesterday morning and got here in the afternoon. I walked the course to see what it was like and then free rolled it today.”

Denmark’s Simonsen holds the early lead as five birdies in his first 16 holes has him five-under, one shot clear of Spain’s Javier Sainz, who opened with a 66 as he bids to win back-to-back events after triumphing at last week’s Scottish Challenge.

Greystones’ Paul Dunne opened his tournament with a level-par 70 to sit just inside the top-40, but it was a rough opening day for Paul McBride as he collapsed to a seven-over 77.

Gavin Moynihan, John Murphy, Conor Purcell and Charlie Williams are among the afternoon wave of starters on day one in Dříteč.

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