Bad Saarow - Punctuality, as they say, is a German thing. And what can one argue, as even the rain was timed to perfection, setting in just as the first group of players walks onto the first tee. After an initial pour down, the weather did however clear up for most of the day, albeit showers continued to hassle the players on and off. Regardless of the rain, the Faldo course presented itself in an inviting form and 32 of the 96 players were able to score under-par rounds. Six of them including Lorenzo Scalise (ITA), Ludvig Aberg (SWE), John Axelsen (DEN), Frederic Lacroix (FRA) and Robin Dawson (IRE) even played five under par or better!
One of them however even stood out of these very good scorers. Gian Marco Petrozzi (ENG), who started with an early tee off time, was practically on fire for the whole of his round. Nine birdies and one eagle were in his basket, when he came up the eighteenth fairway. And it was just at the conclusion of this glorious round, that he picked up a three-putt and noted a bogey. If it was not for this little scratch, he would have set up a new course record for this much respected championship golf course.
62 - a round as planned
Anyway, Petrozzi did manage to tie the record, that was set up by the renowned playing pro Gary Evans, who scored a 62 at the opening round of the 1999 German Masters. And probably even more important, Petrozzi was able to lift Team England onto the very top of the leaderboard.
He commented his exceptional round: „We have got a good process to prepare for each tournament and we just did everything in our very regular way. We were very clear on what to do on every hole and today I executed the plans really well and it turned out pretty good. Tying the course record, feels great - although I haven’t really thought about it too much at this point. And anyway, our main goal is to finish within the top eight and to advance to the first flight. Of course we would like to finish first, just like last year. But first of all we will just go out tomorrow and see that we can reach our objectives.“
A close race for the top eight
Besides Petrozzi however, it was only Matthew Jordan, who was able to score an under-par round for the English team, showing that the current leader is not invulnerable. Still, with its five best individual rounds counting for the team score, England needed a mere 349 strokes to complete the day. The leading equipe is closely followed by the Swedish team with 351 strokes. Denmark and France are tied for third place, each with 353 strokes. Finland is in hot pursuit with 354 strokes.
The sixth rank is currently held by the dutch team (356 strokes). The last two positions of the first flight are momentarily held by Scotland (357 strokes) and defending champion Spain (358 strokes). Ireland (359 strokes), Iceland and Germany (each 360 strokes) are only a few shots behind and will try to use the second qualifying day to gain ground, as only the first eight teams will actually compete for the trophy of the European Team Champion.
Tomorrow the second stroke play round will commence at 08:00 o’clock from tee 1.