Thursday, October 09, 2014





Nicolas Colsaerts missed out on the first ever 59 on The European Tour by the merest of margins on the opening day of the Portugal Masters at the Oceånico Victoria Golf Club at Vilamoura on the Algarve/
The Belgian slid a 20 foot birdie putt agonisingly just past the left-hand lip of the 18th to fall short of the elusive feat by a single stroke.
No player has ever broken 60 in the 42-year history of The European Tour, but Colsaerts looked set to change all that after he followed seven birdies with eagles at the 15th and 17th.
That left the 31 year old needing a birdie going up the last and he responded by sending a typically booming drive straight down the middle of the fairway.
A short iron left him with a makeable putt and, as he walked towards the green, he was able to share a joke with playing partner Branden Grace, who shot 60 at Kingsbarns in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship two years ago.
Colsaerts’ putt looked on course to drop until the final few moments as he instead had to be content with a 60 - the 19th time the score has been managed on The European Tour.
Even more significantly, he was able to head to the clubhouse with a three-shot lead over the rest of the field.
The closest of his rivals were Alexander Levy and Scott Jamieson, who had set the target mark for the afternoon starters with a round of 63.
Frenchman Levy was first to haul in Jamieson, who operated with a new putter after missing the cut in his previous three tournament, after 14 holes but he was unable to go on.
Instead it was Colsaerts who took charge as his recent return to form gathered extreme pace on the back nine.
The 2012 Ryder Cup winner has missed the cut in half of the 14 tournament he has played on The European Tour this season, but has found some touch in the past month.
He had made his past three cuts before heading to the Algarve and last time out finished in a tie for fourth at the ISPS Handa Welsh Open.
A string of four birdies from the ninth moved him to seven under before he leapfrogged Levy and Jamieson into the lead with the first of his eagles as his power dwarfed the 315 yard par four 15th.
At the penultimate hole he was able to clear the water – which Jamieson had earlier found in the only blemish of his round – to open up his chance of a 59 up the last.
"When I made eagle on 15,  I knew then that if I birdied the last three, that would have been 59," Colsaerts said.
"So I parred 16 and then walking down the fairway on 16, I tell Brian after I hit a good drive, I was like: 'It's 59 or nothing'."
Re-living his final hole, he added: "Hit a good drive. It's too bad it (the putt) just shaves the edge.
"I thought it was going to be slightly left to right at the end and it kind of went straight and basically just left it hanging. Too bad, I thought it was a pretty good effort, especially with these dark clouds that we saw at the back. It's a great setting."
The weather forced play to be called off for the day shortly after Colsaerts left the 18th with the players set to resume at 8.15am Friday  morning.
The best of the players yet to finish their opening round was Adrian Otaegui, who is precariously placed at 120th in The Race to Dubai, as he was seven under through 14 holes and level with fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Jamieson earlier shot out of the traps, carding five birdies in his opening seven holes, but then immediately dropped his only shot of the day on the par five 17th - when he found the water with his second.
The Scot finished his round with his eighth and ninth birdies of the day, and was content with his day's work as he found improvement with his new short stick.
"It's a similar style putter, something different to look at," he said.
"I feel like I've been playing really well for the last three months. I had a few top tens a couple months back, and hopefully, this will be the week that I can sort of capitalise on it because I feel tee to green, everything's been very good."
Another Scot, Chris Doak, was in a group of four players who carded 65s to be five shots off the pace.
Doak's flawless round continued a memorable few weeks during which he became a father for the first time before finishing fifth at last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and secured his Tour card for the 2015 season. 
Chile's Felipe Aguilar and English duo Danny Willett and David Lynn were alongside him on six under while Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley enjoyed a blemish-free 67.

Par 71
60 N Colsaerts (Belgium)
63 S Jamieson (Scotland), A Levy (France)
64 R Cabrera-Bello (Spain)
65 C Doak (Scotland), D Willett (England), F Aguillar (Chile), D Lynn (England)

68 D Drysdale (T28)
69 M Warren (T44)
70 R Ramsay (T56)
71 P Lawrie (T71)
75 C Lee (T119) 





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