It was a poor opening day for the Irish contingent battling it out at the Challenge Tour event in Germany this week.
Some of the bigger guns on the tour had made it to The Open in Royal Liverpool, leaving the door open a little for others to make a charge while top players were absent.
However, our Irish golfers who travelled to the Wittelsbacher Golf Club for the Challenge Tour’s Big Green Egg German Challenge powered by VcG have left themselves a lot to do.
The best placed after round one was Northern Ireland’s Dermot McElroy on level par.
Next up are Jonathan Caldwell and Jonathan Yates, seven off the pace on two over, followed by Cormac Sharvin on three over, Niall Kearney on four over, while Tour regular Conor Purcell did not tee it up this week.
The pace has been set by Victor Pastor and Sam Hutsby, who share a one stroke lead after they posted five under par rounds of 67.
Englishman Hutsby started at the tenth and reached the turn one under par before carding four birdies on the back nine without a bogey to join Pastor at the top of the leaderboard late in the day.
Spaniard Pastor had earlier set the clubhouse target having had to contend with strong winds in Neuburg. Birdies on hole one and eight on the way out saw him turn two under par, with further gains coming on 11, 12 and 14 before a bogey-birdie finish.
The 28-year-old was delighted with his putting throughout and is hoping for more of the same on day two.
Pastor said: “I hope I can putt like this every day of my life but I’m not sure that’s possible.
“I made a lot of putts out there.
“It was tough this morning because of the wind. There are some holes that it swirls a bit more on. I wasn’t hitting it that well from the tee but from my second shots I was playing well.
“The last two or three months, I’ve really struggled off the tee. It’s a narrow course from the tee so hitting a good tee shot is important, so because of that, I’m not sure it really suits my game. It’s a tough course but it’s definitely fair.”
Pastor is looking to join countrymen Angel Hidalgo and Alejandro Del Rey as the third consecutive Spanish winner of the event, and he’s sure the experience he had on the same course in 2022 will be important as the course firms up.
He added: “From my experience here last year, the ground was really hard and today it started getting harder too, so that will start to change how it plays.
“My plan won’t change when I get out there tomorrow though. If I can be in the fairway off the tee then leave it to my work on the greens, hopefully I can make some putts again.”
THE IRISH CHALLENGE IN HEADFORT FROM JULY 27-30