Espen Kofstad, from Norway is the first round leader in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Espen Kofstad /Getty Images
Espen shot a first round -7 under par 64 on the par 71 layout at Celtic Manor. He was playing in the presence of Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley on first day of qualification for next year’s side begins. Espen had a fine finish to his round with birdies at 15,16,17, and rounded it all off with an Eagle three at the 18th. A neck injury saw him withdraw from the French Open, but after receiving medical attention has burst back onto the scene. He said his round was a good application for Paul to consider;
“I have been very, very calm the last two weeks, I started to settle down a bit. I was a bit stressed and tentative and wasn’t able to practice as much as I wanted to with my neck injury. Today I wasn’t nervous and it felt really easy. I kept hitting the shots and they came off in the end. I got a little lucky I suppose holing a long putt on the 17th and the bunker shot on the last. I was only trying to get it ten-fifteen feet past the hole because it was a tough shot.It would be great to play in the Ryder Cup, although I can’t really expect a spot. But I put in a decent application today.”
Paul, -1 under par, was certainly impressed;
“What a finish, to finish birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle is fantastic. He hit it a million miles, hit a lot of fairways, played very well and he deserved that score.”
Tied in second place, two shots behind on -5 under par are Chris Wood and Richard Green. Chris was happy to be so close to his home, in Bristol City;
“Even though I’m English I do think of this as a home event and it’s one I’d love to win. It’s nice to be able to stay at home this week, dinner is on the table when you walk in the door, and I treated my caddie to a Bristol City game on Tuesday. We beat Crystal Palace in the Capital One Cup so I think he got lucky. It’s probably the best I have seen them play for a couple of years so I think Brendan is now a bit of a closet fan.”
Richard is another player battling injury, a dodgy wrist,, tennis elbow and bad shoulder, he said his game is getting better. He needs it to because he is at 112 on the list and is in danger of losing his playing privileges for next year.
“The signs are good. I’ve been suffering a bit of tennis elbow and a bit of a dodgy right wrist and a bad shoulder, as you do when you get older. I’m managing them pretty well, the guys in the physio truck are looking after me pretty well and getting me fit to play. As long as I keep up that sort of work and keep fit, I’ll be all right. I’ve gone 20 years in my golf career injury-free and all of a sudden in one year, I’ve got three different things bothering me.”
At -4 under par, and tied in fourth place are Tjaart Van Der Walt, Mark Foster and Gregory Bourdy. It will be interesting tomorrow to see if Espen can keep up the fast pace he has set here at Celtic Manor for the second round.