Joakim Lagergren and Li Haotong share the first round lead at the Porsche European Open after carding five under par opening rounds of 67 at Green Eagle Golf Courses.
Two-time DP World Tour winner Li set the early clubhouse target after starting his round with three birdies in a row, making the turn four under par. He then made two further gains on the back nine, cancelling out a bogey on the 16th with his sixth birdie of the day on the par five 18th.
Lagergren, who won the 2018 Rocco Forte Sicilian Open, carded his first birdie of the day on the ninth hole after eight consecutive pars. He played the back nine on the formidable Porsche Nord Course in four under as he carded four birdies and an eagle to join Li at the top of the leaderboard.
Holland’s Wil Besseling carded a four under par 68 to sit in solo third and he sits one stroke ahead of seven golfers in a share of seventh place, including last week’s Dutch Open winner Victor Perez of France and Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who won the Catalunya Championship in May.
Li Haotong: ““I think I hit a lot of solid iron shots. My approaches were really good today. I had a lot of birdies on the tough holes as well. I found my rhythm compared to last week.
“I didn’t know (I had a fast start). I just tried to play my golf and my game. I enjoyed it out there.
“It’s a very tough course. It’s super long. A lot of par fives and long par fours. It’s going to be a great test this week.
“I felt solid. I lost my rhythm on the weekend last week. Hopefully I can keep the same rhythm this week and make another good score.”
Joakim Lagergren: ““I’m very pleased. It’s a really tough course. It’s a long one and you don’t get any roll on the fairways at all. A lot of mid irons into the greens, so minus five on this course, in any condition is good, but even better today.
“I was pretty solid off the tee. Great iron shots and my putting was pretty good as well, so it was a mix of everything.
“From nine to 18, we’re playing five par fives. So you get opportunities if you’re good with the woods. I think I was. There’s some shots to get there, but if you’re a little bit off, it’s tough.
“The par fives here…there’s only one that was reachable for me today. Maybe two. They’re not easy. But if you’re playing them well, you’ll have a wedge shot. So there are shots to pick up there, but they are still tough holes.”
Wil Besseling: ““It was early, to start off with. But it was nice in the morning and then the wind came up. The sun actually went away so it was quite cold, chilly. The ball didn’t fly far. I didn’t have the timing today, my body didn’t feel great but I managed to get it around nicely – up until 15 it was very nice, six under par. I putted very nicely, which I was happy with. Unfortunately some mistakes at the end, but a nice birdie to finish the day.”
Victor Perez: ““It felt really solid. We got the best of the conditions, it was nice and calm when we started. The course plays really long with the rain yesterday. It’s about just driving the ball on the fairway and give yourself as many chances. Those par fives, you used to think they were birdie holes for sure. But they are definitely not here. You have to hit sometimes two great shots to give yourself a wedge. You have to plot along. It’s a different mentality with that being said.”