O'Malley sets early pace

Globe-trotting Australian Peter O’Malley set the target for the rest of the field with a six-under-par 66 at the BMW International Open in Munich today.

The 42-year-old former Scottish Open champion, who flies home most months to see his children, shared top spot with South African Anton Haig, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and Argentinian Rafa Echenique midway through the opening round.

“I’m doing a lot more travelling now my kids are schooling in Australia,” said O’Malley.

“I played three weeks, go home for a couple and I’m just trying to manage my time better.

“I don’t play much when I have my time off, so I just feel like I want to play when I’m out here, which is always good.

“There’s a good run of tournaments now and these are the weeks that you want to play good golf.

“Obviously I have to try to get into The Open at some stage – avoiding the qualifying would be great.”

The 36-hole qualifier takes place at Sunningdale on Monday week, but O’Malley was unable to get there three years ago after play in the French Open was delayed by bad weather.

Today’s leaderboard was not an entirely European-free zone.

England’s Mark Foster was alongside another Argentinian player, Daniel Vancsik, after a 67 and in the group one further back were rising German star Martin Kaymer and Swede Alexander Noren.

Order of Merit leader Miguel Angel Jimenez, sixth in the US Open on Sunday, had a hat-trick of late birdies for a 69, one better than 50-year-old Bernhard Langer, who took some of the shine off his day’s work with a closing three-putt bogey six.

Graeme McDowell, at ninth on the Ryder Cup points table one spot ahead of Kaymer, was paired both with him and Langer.

The big crowd that obviously attracted did not inspire McDowell, who also finished with a six and signed for a 71.

Kaymer had been doubtful before the start because of his mother’s health and Langer, joint runner-up in the event last year, commented: “I hear she’s seriously ill, so it’s going to be very tough for him to concentrate.”

McDowell said: “There’s plenty of room for improvement, but nobody has really gone crazy.

“That was one of my more scrappy performances lately, but a couple of low ones and I’ll be there or thereabouts.”

Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Paul Casey and defending champion Niclas Fasth were among the later starters.

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