Joost Luiten and George Coetzee will take a share of the lead into the second round of the Portugal Masters after firing seven under par rounds of 64 on day one at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
From The European Tour
Luiten set the target in the morning and was then caught by Coetzee with Italy’s Nino Bertasio, Frenchman Grégory Havret, Australian Jason Scrivener, Englishman Callum Shinkwin and China’s Ashun Wu at six under.
Both players had been struggling for form of late but with Luiten having a new driver in the bag and Coetzee having recently spent some time back in his native South Africa, they found their stride in some style in Vilamoura.
Coetzee had missed four cuts in a row before finishing in a tie for third last week and he looked to be carrying that momentum in style as he birdied six of his first eight holes to turn in 30 from the tenth.
With Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts having both had putts for a 59 here in recent seasons, the magic number crept into Coetzee’s mind but he bogeyed the second before birdieing the fifth and holing a 25-footer on the eighth to record a 13th sub-70 round at this event in 15 attempts.
“I read an article yesterday about 59-watch and after eight holes I was thinking, ‘okay, if I birdie the next one and the next one and the next one…’,” he said. “I guess I shot myself in the foot a little bit today but I was quite happy with the way things went.
“I’ve always played well around this track, posted some good finishes and I really enjoy the golf course, it suits my eye pretty well and luckily today it did that again.”
Scrivener was bogey-free in his 65 while Havret, Shinkwin and Wu all dropped a single shot. Bertasio made an eagle on the 12th to go with five birdies and a bogey.
South African duo Dean Burmester and Richard Sterne, English pair Laurie Canter and Eddie Pepperell, Spaniards Alejandro Cañizares and Nacho Elvira, Dane Lucas Bjerregaard and Swede Michael Jonzon were then at five under, a shot clear of a group containing defending champion Padraig Harrington.