Dale Marmion opened the 2010 PGA EuroPro Tour in style, recording eight birdies in the first round of The Motocaddy Masters at Wensum Valley Hotel Golf and Country Club to lead by two shots at seven under.
Marmion (Eaton GC) stormed down the front nine with five birdies â€“ including chipping in at the ninth â€“ and moved to six under at the 13th. His one and only blemish of the day occurred at 15 but that bogey was snuffed out with a birdie-birdie finish for the 2008 Order of Merit runner-up to sit in a great position on the opening day of the Tour.
â€œI played nicely today, being three under through five gave me some nice momentum to build on,â€ said Marmion. â€œAfter the turn I thought there were some chances out there but I missed a short putt at 12 and hit some bad drives down the back which foiled my chances to go lower. Wensum Valley was the only cut I missed back in 2008 so I’ve obviously learned how to cope here and leading from the front is nothing new to me so I’ll just be looking to keep things the same tomorrow.â€
The 25 year-old was a revelation on the EuroPro Tour in 2008, winning two of the ten events he played, and although he admitted the step up was tough, he has vowed to show that he is ready to fight to get his card back on the Challenge Tour.
â€œI loved the travel on the Challenge Tour and it was a great experience, but at the end of the day you play to win and beat the field and I was unable to do so,â€ said Marmion. â€œI didnâ€™t make enough cuts but I learnt a lot and Iâ€™m fully committing to the EuroPro Tour this year to get my confidence back and get back on the Challenge Tour in 2011.â€
Rhys Black (Sherwood Forest GC) is Marmionâ€™s closest challenger thanks to a burst of three birdies and an eagle from the 11th seeing Black card 67 to sit two behind Marmion.
Blackâ€™s breathing space is tighter than that of the leader, with James Hepworth finding the back nine to his liking in a four under par 68. Hepworth (Ilkley GC) opened with a birdie but was level at the turn after a bogey at the fifth. He soon stepped on the gas though with four straight birdies from the tenth seeing him race to four under. A bogey at 16 threatened to spoil his day but the sixth birdie of his opening round saw him claim outright control of third spot.
Scott Henry and Daniel Gaunt are one stroke behind Hepworth in fourth spot at three under. Henry was one over at the turn but four birdies from the twelfth on the back nine saw him shoot 69, while Gaunt would have been a stroke clear of Henry but a bogey at the last saw him match his score.
Local star and former winner of the event Andrew Marshall finished on two under after the opening round. Marshall (Green 17) was one over at the turn after a bogey at the fifth, but the man currently in sixth spot on the Challenge Tour rankings after an impressive fourth place finish in the Kenya Open strung three birdies together from the 13th to shoot 70.
â€œI held on a bit on the front nine, I was probably half-asleep with such an early start,â€ said Marshall, who teed off at 7.46am. â€œBut I saved par on ten which was important as there are a few chances from there, as I showed with the three birdies in a row. A bit disappointed not to go lower towards the end, but two under is not a bad score and you can’t win in the opening day.â€
Marshall won the Wensum Valley EuroPro Tour event in 2005 and looks certain to be in the mix for Thursdayâ€™s final round, and the 37 year-old is keen to keep his form up ahead of a return to action in the Challenge Tour after choosing to play in Norwich rather than travel to Turkey for the Challenge Tour.
â€œKenya was a strange one for me really,â€ said Marshall of his promising Challenge Tour result. â€œI played nicely and putted OK but never really looked at the scores around me until I got towards the end where I birdied the last to take fourth. It seems like a long time ago as I have had a break and then there have been the flight disruptions of course, but Iâ€™m glad to be playing at Wensum Valley â€“ my parents are just down the road, Iâ€™ve won here before and itâ€™s nice to come back and see the guys I used to knock about with.â€
Michael Collins had an eventful back nine to join Marshall on two under, reaching the 12th at one over par before carding five birdies and two bogeys in his last seven holes for his 70.
The second round begins at 6.30am on Wednesday (28 April). Live scoring is available via the Score Updates link on the homepage, where the full leader board with all the first round scores from The Motocaddy Masters at Wensum Valley can also be found.