June 8, 2017: Felipe Aguilar rediscovered his form in some style with a 65 to take the first-round lead at the Lyoness Open powered by ORGANIC+. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar scored three-over-par 75 and tied at T109.
The Chilean has not been up to his usual high standards so far this season, firing just four rounds in the 60s before Thursday with no top tens in 11 starts on the European Tour.
He showed all the skill and grit that has brought him two wins on day one at Diamond Country Club, though, and led the way from Swede Johan Carlsson, England’s Ashley Chesters and South African Jaco Van Zyl.
English pair Graeme Storm and Oliver Wilson, and Frenchman Joël Stalter were then at four under.
Aguilar birdied the first, third, fourth and sixth and when he rolled in an 18-footer from the fringe on the seventh, he had turned in 31. A right-to-lefter on the tenth had him six under and while he dropped a shot on the next, a brave drive on the 13th and stunning tee-shot to tap-in range on the 14th had him as the man to catch.
“The way I started playing golf today is always a good sign but this is only 25 per cent of the tournament, we still have three days to go, it’s a long tournament, there are some really good players this week and the course is in great condition so you’ve got to keep the good work up,” said Aguilar.
“I’m going to stay focused on what I am doing, trying to hit fairways which is very important this week, the greens are going to get very difficult so you have to be able to hit the second shots from the fairway.
“I’m going to keep the same strategy, this is just the beginning of the week and we still have three days to go.”
Van Zyl has five runners-up finishes on the European Tour – including this season’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – but is still searching for that elusive first victory.
The South African made birdies on the 13th, 15th, 16th, second and third to set the early target and while a host of the morning’s players would briefly join him at the top of the leaderboard, only Carlsson could make it stick.
He turned in 33 from the tenth with four birdies and a bogey and further gains on the first and third had him in a share of the lead. A poor chip led to a bogey on the fifth but the Swede bounced back with an uphill putt from the fringe on the seventh.
Qualifying School graduate Chesters was the first of the second wave to record a 67 and he did it without a blemish, making birdies on the tenth, 13th, 18th, first and fifth.
Storm is enjoying a successful 2017 after his win at the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni and recently had a top ten at the BMW PGA Championship. The 39 year old birdied the 11th, 14th, 16th, third and fourth but dropped a shot on the ninth.
Challenge Tour graduate Stalter was another to suffer with a late drop, bogeying the 17th after gains on the first, third, seventh, 15th and 16th, while Wilson had six birdies and two bogeys.