The scoring on the Challenge Tour just keeps getting tougher and Gavin Moynihan finds himself in a tie for 10th place after day one at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge having despite carding a superb opening round 68.
Moynihan leads the Irish charge, one stoke ahead of Stuart Grehan (69) and two ahead of both Robin Dawson (70) & Cormac Sharvin (70) but he is five strokes off the hot pace being set by Darius van Driel who notched an opening round of 63, nine under par, to open up a three-shot lead at the head of proceedings.
The Dutchman, who is going in search of his second European Challenge Tour title after his maiden triumph at the 2018 Euram Bank Open, made the perfect start to the week with a spectacular first round performance at Vierumäki Resort, which included nine birdies and an eagle.
His birdie blitz on day one smashed the previous course record at the Finnish venue and means that the 30-year-old will begin day two at the top of the leaderboard for the second time in less than a month, having led the way after 18 holes at the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge.
He sits three shots ahead of South African Bryce Easton, Spain’s Ivan Cantero Gutierrez and Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, who all recorded six under par rounds of 66.
Despite conditions being considerably colder than the players have faced in recent weeks, van Driel had little problem adjusting on a course where he finished in a tie for second in 2016.
‘’I was on holiday last week and didn’t touch my clubs at all and then came out here and didn’t have time to play a practice round,’’ he said. ‘’On the range this morning it felt like I would have been happy with a 72 and then I bogeyed the first hole as well, which perhaps wasn’t too surprising.
‘’It felt really cold out there, especially considering the conditions we’ve had in Europe over the last month or so, but I was able to putt well, and made an eagle on the first hole, my tenth, which always helps.’’
Easton, playing in the first group of the day, made quick work of his opening round, firing six birdies in his first ten holes as he goes in search of his first Challenge Tour title. Cantero Gutierrez closed with two birdies to ensure he was bogey-free for the round, while Karlberg also finished with a flourish, recording a birdie and an eagle on his final two holes
Mikael Salminen finished the day as the best-placed Finnish player after an opening round of 68, four under par, a year after Kim Koivu become the first home player to triumph at the tournament.
A group of five players, including German Dominic Foos, Norway’s Eirik Tage Johansen, Swede Christofer Blomstrand and French duo Clément Berardo and Edouard Dubois, sit on five under par, four shots off the lead.