DP World Tour: Thomas Pieters one back at Czech Masters as Louis de Jager grabs early lead
Louis de Jager leads after opening-round 64 at Albatross Golf Resort, with Thomas Pieters in second as he chases a third victory at the event; Watch the second round live on Friday from midday on Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 18/08/22 7:44pm
Thomas Pieters made a strong start to his bid for a third D+D Real Czech Masters title by getting within a shot of the early lead in Prague.
The highest-ranked player in the field, who claimed his maiden DP World Tour title in the 2015 contest and won the 2019 event at the same venue, mixed nine birdies with two bogeys on his way to an opening-round 65 at Albatross Golf Resort.
Pieters held the clubhouse lead until South Africa's Louis de Jager fired eight birdies in a bogey-free 64, with defending champion Johannes Veerman two shots back in tied-third alongside Marcel Schneider, Tapio Pulkkanen and Jordan Gumberg.
"I made some putts that me and my playing partners thought were going to miss today, the greens were getting very bumpy near the end," Pieters said. "I think I got a bit of luck, put some good strokes on it. It was tough putting."
Pieters birdied his opening three holes before adding another from 20 feet at the sixth and holing a 15-footer from the fringe at the eighth, seeing him reach the turn in 31, only for the Belgian to miss from six feet and bogey the par-five tenth.
The world No 35 two-putted from 20 feet at the par-five 12th for the first of four consecutive birdies, temporarily taking him two clear, before finding water off the tee at the par-four last on his way to a closing bogey.
De Jager also took advantage of the par-five first and followed five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the sixth by rolling in from 15 feet at the par-four 15th, before jumping into the solo lead by rolling in a 20-foot birdie on his final hole.
Schneider, Gumberg and Pulkkanen all made blemish-free starts to get to six under, while Veerman birdied six of his opening 11 holes and added another at the 15th before slipping back with a long-range three-putt bogey at the par-three next.
England's Richard Mansell and Scotland's Grant Forrest are in the group of eight players on five under, while Ian Poulter - one of five LIV Golf players in the field - opened with a two-under 70.
Watch the D+D Real Czech Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from midday on Sky Sports Golf.