Andalucia Masters: Connor Syme's two-under 69 enough for share of first-round lead
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 04/09/20 11:17pm
Connor Syme earned a share of the lead as only five players managed to break par on a tough opening day of the Estrella Damm NA Andalucía Masters.
The Real Club Valderrama course is tough enough in perfect conditions, but a stiff breeze throughout the first day sent scores soaring, with Syme's commendable two-under 69 enough to lead along with Jorge Campillo, Guido Migliozzi and John Catlin.
A sub-par score looked unlikely for Syme when he double-bogeyed the short third and turned in 37, but excelled on the back nine and, after a birdie at 12, he picked up shots on each of the final three holes to soar into the early clubhouse lead.
Syme's outstanding finish gives him a great platform to build on as he chases his maiden European Tour title following two close calls last month at Celtic Manor, where he led, or shared the lead after 54 holes in both Welsh events on the UK Swing.
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"I did play well on the back nine," said Syme. "I missed it in the good spots - as silly as it sounds, if you're going to miss it in certain trees you're better off being in the right ones, so you're always taking that line where you're always taking that second shot.
"So I worked my round, I didn't hit a great tee shot on 16, got a little bit fortunate but I missed it on the right side and hit a nice shot in and holed a nice putt, and it was the same on 17. It's just about managing your ball, that's so important around here."
Campillo was poised to have the outright lead until he ran up a six at the long 17th, a hole which Migliozzi and Catlin both birdied to make it a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
Pep Angles was the only other player in the field to shoot in red numbers after he birdied three of the last five holes to return a 70, while last week's UK Championship winner Rasmus Hojgaard slipped to level par when the Dane bogeyed the 15th and 18th.
Hojgaard's compatriot Soren Kjeldsen also carded a 71 on a good day for some notable veterans, with Thomas Bjorn handing in a 72 after being two under with seven holes remaining.
Bjorn was joined on one over by Martin Kaymer, Jamie Donaldson and Alvaro Quiros, with English Championship champion Andy Sullivan a further stroke off the pace.