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Moynihan hits the ground running in Mauritius

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Gavin Moynihan has hit the ground running at his opening event of the 2019 European Tour season by firing a three-under-par 69 on day one of the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

The Dubliner, who secured one of the last available tour cards at Q-School earlier this month, has enjoyed a resurgence of form in recent weeks and he was quick to continue it in Main Tour company today.

The Mount Juliet professional fired four birdies with just a single bogey on the card to finish his day in a share of 22nd spot on minus-three.

A quick start could prove crucial to Moynihan’s season ambitions and with memories of his slow start to the last campaign still fresh in his mind, he looks to be on a redemption mission already.

Indeed, GolfSixes winning teammate, Paul Dunne, was quick to emphasise the importance of a good start when congratulating Moynihan at the time of regaining his card earlier this month:

“What’s very important for a player coming out of Q-School is that they go and play these four events before Christmas, the start of this season just get off to a good start,” said Dunne.

“Gavin struggled at the start last year and that kind of set the tone for the year so if you can get off to a good start, a bit of momentum then everything because much easier.

“Hopefully he can keep that run of form going and have a few good finishes before Christmas and then he will be off and rolling.”

He certainly looks to be mean business after day one in Mauritius.

Meanwhile Niall Turner was quietly going about his business in the second part of the day as he signed for an encouraging two-under-par 70.

The tall Ballincollig native, who plied his trade mainly on the Asian Tour last season, carded four birdies of his own in an opening effort that sees him sharing 33rd spot on two-under.

At the top, Victor Perez continued his stunning start to life on the European Tour as he grabbed a share of the lead on day one at Anahita.

The Frenchman carded nine birdies and a single bogey on Thursday afternoon to sign for a brilliant 64 and sit alongside India’s Chikkarangappa S at the top of the leaderboard on eight-under-par.

Early clubhouse leader Jaco Van Zyl was joined on seven under by late starters Kurt Kitayama and Masahiro Kawamura after they both carded seven birdies and no bogeys in their opening 65s.

Meanwhile, Lee Slattery and Justin Harding finished their rounds with eagles at the 18th to sit in a tie for sixth alongside Matthieu Pavon, Malcolm Kokocinski, Matthias Schwab, Oliver Bekker and Alex Haindl on five under.

Perez graduated from the Challenge Tour in style after winning the Foshan Open last month before coming second at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final in his very next event.

He carried that form into the 2019 Race to Dubai campaign, finishing in a tie for third at last week’s season-opening Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi.

And, starting from the tenth tee at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita, Perez was on song again on Thursday, firing back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th before picking up further shots at the 16th and 18th to reach the turn in 32.

The 26-year-old then reeled off a hat-trick of birdies from the second to join Van Zyl at the top.

Perez dropped his first shot of the day at the short fifth but got it back with a 12-foot putt at the next to return to seven under.

The in-form Frenchman finished his round with a flourish, sending his approach at the ninth – his last – to within three feet of the cup before rolling in for a closing birdie to get to eight under.

Chikkarangappa reached the turn in 31 after picking up five birdies on his front nine – including three in a row from the fifth.

After making further gains at the tenth and 16th, he finished things off with a birdie at the 18th to sign for a flawless 64.

Van Zyl also started brightly early on day one, firing birdies at the first, fourth and sixth to turn in 33.

After making another gain at the 11th, the 39 year old produced a spectacular birdie-eagle finish – courtesy of a magnificent 15-foot eagle putt at the last – to sign for a 65.

Japan’s Kawamura covered the front nine in 32 after making birdies at the second, sixth, seventh and ninth.

He then began his back nine with back-to-back birdies at the tenth and 11th before finishing with another gain at the last to get within one shot of the co-leaders.

Defending champion Dylan Frittelli and four-time Major Champion Ernie Els, who designed this week’s host course, posted three-under-par 69s on Thursday.

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