Five players are tied for the lead at four under par after the opening round of The Pandora 2010 Open on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Burhill Golf Club in Surrey.
Shaun McAllister, Graham Benson, Sean Doherty, Martin Sell and Tim Dykes all recorded rounds of 68 on the New Course on a day of fine scoring in the second event on the Tour.
McAllister (Craigielaw) was the early pacesetter, carding three birdies in his opening four holes on the back nine â€“ moving through the turn at three under after a bogey at 15 was followed by a fourth birdie at 18. His fifth birdie of the day came at the first to move him to four under which is where he would finish after a pair of birdies from the fourth were sandwiched between two dropped shots for a round of 68.
Benson (Leighton Buzzard) was the first player to join McAllister thanks to a couple of birdie bursts. Benson flew out of the traps on the front nine with a trio of birdies from the second hole, but consecutive bogeys at eight and nine pegged him back to one under. His response on the back nine was instant though, with birdies at 10 and 11 followed by another at the 13th to see him match McAllisterâ€™s 68.
Doherty (Bury GC) threatened to nab the lead outright in one of the final groups of the day but a bogey at the eighth hole â€“ his penultimate â€“ cost him that honour. Martin Sell and Tim Dykes were also late finishers in the opening round who had a shot at the lead. Sell (Wrag Barn GC) began on the back nine with four birdies to move to three under at the turn. A bogey at the first hole was a setback but one he overcame well with back-to-back birdies from the sixth hole for his 68. Dykes (Wrexham GC) also began with three birdies on the back nine, and after cancelling out his first dropped shot of the day at the second with a birdie at the third, an eagle at the fifth looked to have snared the Wrexham man the lead in the final group of the day, but a bogey at the sixth dashed that hope and he had to settle for a share of the lead.
Q School runner-up Lee Clarke is joined by namesake Jack one stroke behind the leaders at three under par. Jack began steadily on the back nine until he bogeyed the 15th but the recovery was instant and a second birdie at 18 saw him go through the turn at one under. Three birdies in his first five holes down the home straight saw him join the leaders, but a bogey at the sixth means he had to settle for a round of 69.
Lee (Everbuild Building Products) was in the three-ball that followed Jack and he too went through the turn at one under, albeit in more dramatic style with four birdies and three bogeys â€“ two further birdies at the second and fifth holes saw him match Jackâ€™s effort. Irishman Michael McGeady registered four birdies in his round of 69, while the highlight of Nick McCarthyâ€™s (Moortown) three under par round was an eagle at the par-five 11th. McGeadyâ€™s fellow countryman Paul Oâ€™Hanlon (Curragh), playing with Dykes, recorded his sixth birdie of the day on his last hole to complete the list of five players one shot adrift.
Gary King (Tyrells Wood) looked to be heading for the outright lead after starting on the back nine and moving through 12 holes at five under par. A double bogey at the par three fourth was his first misstep in the round but a birdie at the sixth left him at four under with three holes to play, before a bogey-bogey finish undid his earlier good work.
Joining King at two under par is Daniel Gaunt, winner of the season opener at Wensum Valley in April. Gaunt too began well on the back nine, three under through nine thanks to four birdies but the front nine was less forgiving, where he kicked off bogey-birdie before dropping two more shots before the last, where he gained a valuable sixth birdie of the day. PGA EuroPro Tour favourites Elliot Saltman (Aegon) and Matthew Ford (Marriott Tudor Park) are among the dozen players who shot two-under par rounds of 70.
Live scoring from the second round of The Pandora 2010 Open from Burhill GC in Surrey is available from 7.30am on Thursday morning by clicking on the Score Updates link where you can also find the full first round leader board.