Four players share the lead after the first round of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final after an action-packed opening day at Al Mouj Golf.
Australia’s Nick Cullen, Sweden’s Oscar Lengden, Argentina’s Estanislao Goya and Poland’s Adrian Meronk all signed for five under par rounds of 67 to put themselves firmly in contention for a place in the top 15 on the Road to Oman – who will earn European Tour cards at the end of the week.
Meronk, who narrowly missed out on a maiden European Challenge Tour title at last week’s Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge after losing in a play-off to Jens Dantorp, has now gone 36 holes without a bogey after a blemish-free score today.
Lengden and Goya, who arrived in Muscat in 20th and 23rd in the Rankings respectively, have both won on the Challenge Tour this year and will be looking to pick up more silverware this week.
Cullen started the day in 33rd place in the Rankings and, as things stand, would claim the 15th and final card on Saturday.
Also impressing in Muscat was Aaron Rai, who continued where he left off on his return to Challenge Tour action by carding an opening 68 to sit one back after 18 holes.
The Englishman secured European Tour graduation with three early-season wins on the Road to Oman, and during his first Challenge Tour round since July he bagged five birdies and a bogey to reach four under par.
The 22 year old has gone on to flourish on the European Tour since graduating from Challenge Tour ranks, recording two top-ten finishes in Denmark and Valderramma in the 2017 Race to Dubai.
“It was great out there today. I have had two rough weeks on the road so it was really important for me to go out there and play well today.
“It has been a really good year for me – winning the Bridgestone Challenge was huge. That gave me a lot of confidence and I hope that experience will help me out this week.
“It is a great track here and is definitely one of the best courses that we play and I really like it here. You need to play well out there as if you are just a little bit off then this course can hurt you.”
“I played really solid today. Although I dropped one at the last it was a really good round in what is a really important week for me.
“Although I have played in Majors and WGCs I don’t think that any of that will help you this week. The pressure is huge and there are a lot of really good players – lots of young guys coming through – so it is really tough out there and I am just trying to play as well as I can.
“I have been really consistent this year, something that I have been throughout most of my career, but I have gone three seasons without a win. I am desperate to return to the winners’ circle and this week would be the perfect time to do it.”
“It is a pretty tough golf course – you have to play really well, especially around the greens. It was a little bit calmer this morning but when the wind picks up it is really difficult out there.
“Hitting a lot of fairways was the key for me today. Because I was good off of the tee I was able to attack the pins and I also holed a few good putts – so overall I was very solid today.
“Last week was a great one, the best of my career so far, and hopefully this week will be another good one for me.”
Scores after Round One:
67 E Goya (Arg) , A Meronk (Pol) , N Cullen (Aus) , O Lengden (Swe) ,
68 T Linard (Fra) , A Rai (Eng) , O Farr (Wal) , J Heath (Eng) , M Kinhult (Swe) , C Sordet (Fra) ,
69 O Lindell (Fin) , S Fernandez (Esp) , B Neil (Sco) , R Evans (Eng) , P Oriol (Esp) ,
70 A Saddier (Fra) , L Gagli (Ita) , E Van Rooyen (RSA) , T Murray (Eng) , D Huizing (Ned) , M Tullo (Chi) , G Forrest (Sco) , C Mivis (Bel) , G Moynihan (Irl) , J Dantorp (Swe) , S Heisele (Ger) ,
71 T Pulkkanen (Fin) , M Schwab (Aut) , R McEvoy (Eng) , J Guerrier (Fra) , N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) , G Porteous (Eng) , J Arnoy (Nor) ,
72 J Sjöholm (Swe) , R Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) ,
73 C Ford (Eng) ,
75 C Koepka (USA) , J Girrbach (Sui) , S Brown (Eng) ,
76 B Hafthorsson (Isl) , M Madsen (Den) , M Lundberg (Swe) ,
77 P Howard (Eng) , V Perez (Fra) ,
79 M Ford (Eng) ,