European Tour

Stenson in early running, Willett struggles

2016-06-23 19:09
Henrik Stenson

Pulheim - Henrik Stenson made a solid start in his bid for a second BMW International title to sit three shots off the first-round clubhouse lead in Germany on Thursday.

The 40-year-old Swede is looking to go one better than in the last two editions of this tournament, after following up a 2014 playoff defeat with another runner-up effort last year.

Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin sits atop the leaderboard after a stunning opening-round 65, as he bids for a fifth European Tour victory.

Stenson looked to be in contention for a long overdue maiden major title last week in the US Open at Oakmont after the first day, but was forced to withdraw during his second round with a calf injury.

But the world number seven bounced back in Pulheim, as he carded five birdies against a single bogey for a four-under-par 68.

Stenson's playing partner and Masters champion Danny Willett fell to a 74 after dropping three strokes in his final two holes.

The Englishman played the front nine in two under par, but had two double bogeys on his way back to the clubhouse and now faces a battle to avoid the cut.

The 42-year-old Jacquelin has struggled to find his best form in recent seasons, but had seven birdies on a fine bogey-free day.

Alone in second place, just one shot behind, is England's Oliver Fisher, and the world number 536 was understandably delighted.

"The course is obviously pretty wet from the weather they have had lately here," he told the European Tour website.

"You've got to hit fairways and hit greens and I've done that today and played well. Anytime you go bogey-free for 18 holes is a good round."

Sergio Garcia, who challenged at the farcical US Open won by Dustin Johnson, continued his fine recent form with a one-under-par 71.

Leading first-round scores in the BMW International Open at the Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof, Pulheim, Germany on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):

65 - Raphael Jacquelin (FRA)

66 - Oliver Fisher

67 - Felipe Aguilar (CHI), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Zander Lombard (RSA)

68 - Roope Kakko (FIN), Magnus A Carlsson (SWE), Darren Fichardt (RSA), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Jeff Winther (DEN), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Ross McGowan

69 - Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Robert Dinwiddie, Nathan Holman (AUS), Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Scott Jamieson, Graeme Storm, Prom Meesawat (THA), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Paul Dunne, Adrian Otaegui (ESP), Bradley Dredge, Marcus Fraser (AUS)

70 - Craig Lee, S.S.P Chawrasia (IND), Anders Hansen (DEN), Daniel Im (USA), Joost Luiten (NED), Brandon Stone (RSA), Rafael Echenique (ARG), Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Johan Carlsson (SWE), Anthony Wall, Thomas Bjorn (DEN), David Lipsky (USA), Nacho Elvira (ESP), Nino Bertasio (ITA)


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