Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hortal on cloud nine with a 63 at Madeira
Antonio Hortal carded eight birdies and an eagle to sign for a stunning nine under par opening round 63 and move into the lead at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI.
The Spaniard will take a one-stroke advantage into day two at the picturesque Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra, despite finding himself one over par after four holes – a bogey at the second the only blemish on his card.
Thereafter, the Madrid player embarked on an incredible run to play the final 14 holes in ten under par in the more blustery afternoon conditions and take pole position for a maiden European Tour title.
He already has one European Challenge Tour victory to his name, winning the Challenge de Catalunya on home soil last year before marginally missing out on graduation to The European Tour, finishing one place outside the crucial top 15 in the Road to Oman Rankings.
A victory this week would change everything for the 24 year old but, while he was delighted with his start at the rescheduled event, he knows he cannot get ahead of himself with 54 holes still to play.
“I started with an early bogey but then I started to play very well,” said Hortal. “I started to hole a lot of putts and drove very well too so that is key on this course, to drive it well and take your opportunities.
“I started to hole them from ten feet in before the turn and that’s how I continued during the whole round. I was always getting up and down from inside 40 yards so that really helps. It was a great round.
“I eagled the seventh too, with a good drive, a two iron to just in front of the green and then I chipped in from there. That took me to two under so that really made me feel like I could go and have a low round.
“I’m not thinking about winning yet though. I’m just thinking about playing hole by hole and I’ll see where that takes me.”
Nacho Elvira, meanwhile, continued his mercurial form this season as the Spaniard opened with an impressive eight under par 64.
The 28 year old is this week hoping to add a European Tour title to the two Challenge Tour trophies he has already won in 2015 and his bid for a fast-track return to the top tier got off to a strong start at the sun-kissed mountain-top venue.
It continues a remarkably unpredictable run of form for Elvira, who has added career titles numbers two and three to his trophy cabinet this year, but has not finished inside the top 20 in 12 other appearances on both The European Tour and the Challenge Tour.
The former Texas A and M University student believes that he is on the path to better consistency, especially after starting the week in Madeira with such a strong, bogey-free round.
“I’m extremely happy,” he said. “Starting with an eight under par round in any tournament is always good. I felt like my game was pretty solid – good irons and wedges into the pins – and I putted really well, so overall it was a great day.
“I’ve been really patient, letting the birdies some to me instead of forcing everything.  I was here in March and that was only the first time I played here. It’s playing a little shorter than the last time because of no rain or wind, and you’re hitting shots into greens, so it fits my game better that way. Obviously the views are beautiful and it’s a really good location too.
“I’ve been making a few changes to my swing this year. It works sometimes and then you get back to what it used to be, so it’s been a little bit up and down. I’ve also been making a few club changes here and there to work with the weight of the swing. I’m on the right path though so hopefully we can keep it up.
“It feels like I’m a work in progress still. I was really happy that I could win twice but my coach and I have been working towards being more consistent and it’s been a little bit of work but hopefully we can be there by the end of the year.
Two more in-form Challenge Tour players, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Frenchman Sebastian Gros – second and eighth respectively in the Road to Oman Rankings - were a shot further back after carding seven under rounds of 65.
Scott Henry, who finished runner-up here after losing out to England’s Daniel Brooks in a play-off, was one of the eight players on six under par, three shots off the pace.

par 72
63 A Hortal  (Esp) ,
64 N Elvira  (Esp) ,
65 S Gros (Fra) , R Fox (Nzl) ,
66 A Hartø  (Den) , S Henry  (Sco) , M Schneider (Ger) , R Kakko  (Fin) , C Paisley  (Eng) , S Manley (Wal) , R Santos  (Por) , P Oriol (Esp) ,
67 D Im (USA) , R Davies (Wal) , J Hansen  (Den) , J Walters (RSA) , S Jeppesen  (Swe) , S Walker (Eng) , S Soderberg (Swe) , P Widegren  (Swe) ,
68 B Stone (RSA) , S Fallon (Eng) , P Maddy (Eng) , D Huizing (Ned) , S Tiley (Eng) , O Bekker (RSA) , A Velasco (Esp) , C Shinkwin (Eng) , S Heisele (Ger) , B Ritthammer (Ger) , A McArthur  (Sco) , R Gouveia (Por) , A Tadini (Ita) , M Orrin (Eng) , P Relecom  (Bel) , D Vancsik (Arg) , S Hutsby  (Eng) ,
69 J Gonnet  (Fra) , K Phelan (Irl) , C Del Moral (Esp) , R McGee (Irl) , C Hanson (Eng) , F Calmels  (Fra) , S Wakefield (Eng) , N Geyger (Chi) , C Pigem (Esp) , M Bremner (RSA) , J Sandelin (Swe) , G Murray  (Sco) , J Rask (Swe) , C Arendell (USA) , S Einhaus (Ger) ,
70 A Otaegui  (Esp) , B Virto Astudillo (Esp) , T Van Der Walt (RSA) , J Senior (Eng) , C Mivis  (Bel) , J Lima  (Por) , D Law (Sco) , J Watts (Eng) , D Coupland (Eng) , T Murray (Eng) , W Harrold (Eng) , A Ahokas (Fin) , E Cuartero Blanco  (Esp) , G Pinto (Por) , T Sinnott (Aus) , E Goya (Arg) , A Pavan (Ita) , S Griffiths (Eng) , R McEvoy  (Eng) , J Heath  (Eng) , L Tintera  (Cze) , D Stewart (Sco) ,
71 J Knutzon (USA) , D Woltman (USA) , J Billing (Swe) , B Åkesson (Swe) , H Joannes  (Bel) , L Gagli  (Ita), J Huldahl (Den) , M Søgaard  (Den) , L Slattery (Eng) , A Gee  (Eng) , N Quintarelli (Ita) , D Palm (Swe) , J Carlota (Por) , J Parry (Eng) , J Fahrbring (Swe) , R Coles (Eng) , J Doherty  (Sco) , M Armitage (Eng) , B Etchart  (Esp) , E Dubois (Fra) , S Kim (USA) , A Bernadet  (Fra) , R Paratore (Ita) , J Lara (Esp) ,
72 G Porteous (Eng) , J Lando Casanova  (Fra) , F Andersson Hed (Swe) , E Bertheussen (Nor) , J Guerrier  (Fra) , J Dantorp (Swe) , N Ravano (Ita) , T Linard (Fra) , J Stalter (Fra) , J Barnes (Eng) , J McLeary  (Sco) , J Makitalo  (Fin) , S Brown (Eng) , S Thornton (Irl) , J Scrivener (Aus) , M Lampert (Ger) , G Boyd  (Eng) , P Whiteford (Sco) , T Pilkadaris (Aus) , P Meesawat  (Tha) ,
73 M Lafeber (Ned) , P Lawrie (Irl) , B Hebert  (Fra) , P Dwyer (Eng) , P Figueiredo  (Por) , T Cruz  (Por) , F Bergamaschi (Ita) , J Robinson (Eng) , A Marshall (Eng) , T Sluiter  (Ned) , D Gaunt (Aus) , S Hodgson (Eng) ,
74 B Evans  (Eng) , H Porteous (RSA) , C Berardo (Fra) , C Aguilar  (Esp) , J Hahn (USA) , J Glennemo (Swe) , A Saddier (Fra) , C Ford (Eng) , J Garcia Pinto (Esp) , A Knappe (Ger) , E Saltman  (Sco) , N Bertasio (Ita) ,
75 C Gloet  (Den) , V Riu  (Fra) , L Jensen (Den) , C Laranja (am) (Por) ,
76 W Booth  (Sco) , C Bouniol (Fra) , H Casey (Eng) , M Delpodio  (Ita) , T Bessa (am) (Por) ,
77 J Sousa (Por) , K Ferrie (Eng) , J Ballesteros (Esp) ,
79 R Brackenbury (Eng) ,
80 T Elissalde  (Fra) ,




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