Lawrie One Clear in Portugal
Over the course created by Sir Henry Cotton at Le Meridien Penina, it was Ireland’s Peter Lawrie, the latest winner of the rookie of the year award named after the former Open Champion, who leads the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos after the first round.
Lawrie, who in 2003 became the first Irishman to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award, shot a six under par 66 to break free of the group of seven players on five under par 67.
An outward half of 33, two under par, made up of three birdies and just the one bogey on the ninth where he failed to get up and down was followed by an impressive back nine of 33, a birdie four on the final hole lifting Lawrie from the pack.
“I played nicely,” said Lawrie, who has recently joined up with Nick Faldo’s new management company on a commercial basis. “I hit a few slack iron shots but other than that putted well today.”
Joint ninth in Dubai represents his best return of the year to date, despite a number of low rounds. “Hopefully we can put four rounds together. That is the one thing missing. I’ve been up there after two or three rounds but thrown in a bad one. You don’t win tournaments on a Thursday. I’ve got experience on from last year and from winning on the Challenge Tour so see how things go.”
Among the players on five under par 67 is last week’s Madeira Island Open champion, Christopher Hanell bringing is form onto the Portuguese mainland.
“I’m elated about that,” said Hanell. “I’ve been excited about the season for a long time and to then come and start that way with a win in Madeira and then continue playing well here is fantastic.”
Another Swede, Jarmo Sandelin, matched Hanell’s total as did Challenge Tour Member Gabriel Cañizares. The Spaniard, son of former Ryder Cup player José Maria Cañizares, only received an invitation at the start of the week after winning in Seville on Spain’s Third Level Tour last week.
Another player making a late entrance to the event was England’s Andrew Raitt, who only received notification he was in the field at 1pm on Wednesday. He jumped on a plane from England and arrived at Le Meridien Penina at 7.30pm, a little more than 12 hours before his first round tee time. The lack of practice seemed to do him no harm though as he picked up six birdies with one dropped shot.
Raitt, who lost the tip of his little finger on his left hand when a dog bit it in 1995, has undergone two operations to rebuild the finger which have helped him grip the club better.
Frenchman Gregory Havret, winner in Italy during his rookie season in 2001, also shot a 67 as he seeks his second European Tour title.
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, hoping to put a run of missed cuts behind him now he is back on European soil, also shot a 67, as did Welshman Stephen Dodd.
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com