Late birdie run gives Colsaerts lead

EUROPEAN Tour big-hitter Nicolas Colsaerts equalled his lowest score on the circuit with an opening eight-under-par 62 in the KLM Open at Hilversum yesterday.

The 27-year-old from Brussels birdied five of the last six holes for an inward 29 and a two-stroke lead over English playing partner Kenneth Ferrie and Indian Shiv Kapur.

Three members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team are using the event as part of their preparation for Celtic Manor and Irish Open champion Ross Fisher did best with a 65 – helped by holing a bunker shot for an eagle three on the 499-yard 18th.

German Martin Kaymer, returning to action four weeks after becoming golf’s newest major champion at the US PGA, had a 67, while Italian Francesco Molinari shot 68.

Darren Clarke and Damien McGrane led the Irish challenge after signing for rounds of 68 to finish six shots off the leader.

Colsaerts, who leads the Tour’s driving distance category this season with an average of almost 309 yards, has made six trips to the qualifying school since turning professional a decade ago.

But he graduated from the “second division” Challenge Tour for the second time last year and, at 68th on the money list, this is shaping up to be his best season.

“I have been working quite a bit on my putting and it’s a lot easier when you are playing well rather than when you have your back against the wall,” he said.

* NEWCOMER Trevor Melbourne from Mountain View in Kilkenny clinched the West Coast International Challenge Trophy yesterday evening, despite not being among the winners during the final day’s play.

Melbourne was squeezed out of the top four at Strandhill where 40 points, shared by four players, topped the list with the tournament overall winner posting 39. However, he will not worry too much about that as taking the number one spot over the 72 holes is ample consolation.

The Mountain View man finished with a grand total of 157 points, having two points to spare at the top of the table over Killymoon’s Philip Gervin. Defending champion Tony Sheridan from The Island, going for his fifth title, had to be content with third place.

* REBECCA COAKLEY of Team Ireland shot a four under par 68 on the opening day of the Open de France Feminin to secure a share of fifth place overnight – within two shots of the leader, Linda Wessberg of Sweden.

Coakley made the turn in 33 shots but dropped two shots following a double bogey on the 12th hole to finish the back nine in 35.

Martina Gillen carded 71 to finish one under with Tara Delaney – who made the turn in 38 after doubling the sixth – then recovered with a three under par 33 on the back nine. Hazel Kavanagh was four over par after signing for a 76.

Second round play commences at 8am today before the cut to the leading 60 professionals and ties.

* ROBERT GILES conjured up a sensational finish at Cairndhu to plunder a share of the half-way lead in the annual £10,000 36 holes Pro-Am.

During superb conditions on the tricky undulating track at Ballygalley Head, outside Larne, he posted two under par 68. Brendan McDermott, from Castlecomer and former European Tour full-timer Stephen Hamill completed the three-way tie.


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