European Masters: Max Kieffer sets early pace ahead of Andy Sullivan
Ryder Cup wildcard omissions Thomas Pieters, Matt Wallace and Matt Fitzpatrick all in contention
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 07/09/18 6:45pm
Andy Sullivan carded his lowest opening round since 2015 to get within a shot of the early lead at the Omega European Masters.
The Englishman fired five birdies in a six-hole stretch on his way to a five-under 65 at Crans-sur-Sierre, leaving him in the group of four players sitting a shot back from pacesetter Max Kieffer.
Kieffer mixed seven birdies with a sole blemish to top the leaderboard, with Sullivan joined in a share of second by Soren Kjeldsen, Julien Guerrier and afternoon starter Hideto Tanihara.
"It felt really good out there today," Sullivan told Sky Sports. "I got off to a really good start, which is nice after three weeks off, and then finished with three good up and downs."
Beginning on the back nine, Sullivan followed four consecutive birdies from the 12th with a gain at the 17th to reach the turn in 30 and with a two-shot lead.
Sullivan lost his advantage after missing from five feet to save par at the fourth and making a three-putt bogey at the sixth, only to bounce back with a tap-in gain at the next and a final-hole birdie.
Kjeldsen had earlier set the clubhouse target with a blemish-free 65, only for Kieffer to fire a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th to close a round-of-the-day 64.
Scotland's David Drysdale sits two off the pace alongside Nacho Elvira, Erik Van Rooyen and Justin Walters, with Thomas Pieters a further stroke back after missing out on being named as one of Ryder Cup wildcard picks.
Pieters was playing alongside last week's Made In Denmark winner Matt Wallace and defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick, both omitted from Thomas Bjorn's four selections, who posted rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.
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