Eight birdies and a solitary dropped shot during the opening round at Zhailjau Golf Resort have Adrien Bernadet leaing the way at the Kazakhstan Open.
The Frenchman shot a 65 to finish one stroke clear of his playing partner William Harrold, who holed his second shot at the par five third hole from 241 yards for an unlikely albatross en route to an impressive score of 29 on the front nine in Almaty.
Just a shot further back at five under par is Spain’s Alvaro Velasco, who won at this venue back in 2010, and he rolled back the years on Thursday morning to enter day two in a tie for third alongside Scotland’s George Murray and Swiss professional Damian Ulrich.
As for Bernadet, he was happy to get off to such a strong start, and at 16th on the Rankings this would be the perfect time for the 29 year old to claim a maiden European Challenge Tour title.
“I just played it shot by shot today and I am very happy to have started so well in this tournament,” said the man from Chateaufort, located south west of the French capital. “I have been playing well for the past few events, and I have continued that this week by trying to do exactly the same things as before.
“There are plenty of big events coming up now, including this week, and with those in China, Oman and Dubai still to come, so I am happy to have started this way, and will just have to see how it goes over the next three days.
“It was amazing on the front nine when William holed his shot, and he looked over and smiled. Then I holed a long putt on the green and I gave him the same look. It was fun.
“All three of us, including Edouard (Espana), played well today and we really pulled each other along. It was a very good day, and I feel positive now for the rest of the week.”
As for the second placed Harrold, he was clearly delighted with his fortunes on the third, and struggled to keep the smile off his face as he entered the recording area to sign for an impressive opening 18 holes.
“It was alright on my front nine but I couldn’t really get anything going, then out of nowhere I holed a hybrid for an albatross,” said the Belgian Challenge Open winner from back in June. “I also made four good putts coming in, which meant it all added up to 29, and it was my first albatross so it was great to have it in competition. When it went in I just jumped in the air.
“It is a good start, but nothing to get too excited about yet, and we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings. I always hope to play well, but the game has been a bit up and down of late, so I’d say I’m semi-confident for the rest of the week.”
Velasco started his tournament winning turn at the Kazakhstan Open in exactly the same way four years ago, opening with an impressive 67 en route to a five stroke victory, as well as the number one position on the Rankings come the end of that season.
Those alongside him in a tie for third – Murray and Ulrich – both need big weeks at 77th and 97th, respectively, on the season long list. They will hope for more of the same on Friday, and over the weekend, if they are to push their way into the Final Swing and beyond.
Just three strokes adrift of Bernadet’s leading tally is a whole host of top talent though, with form man Sam Hutsby, VACON OPEN winner Mark Tullo and the only German in the field – Bernd Ritthammer – all amongst those on four under par.
Rolex Open winner Byeong-hun An is one shot worse off at three under par and in a nine-strong group tied for 17th spot, while fellow former US Amateur Champion Matthew Fitzpatrick is one further back of the Korean after an opening 70 in the Central Asian nation.
Scores after round 1:
65 A Bernadet (Fra) ,
66 W Harrold (Eng) ,
67 G Murray (Sco) , A Velasco (Esp) , D Ulrich (Sui) ,
68 C Shinkwin (Eng) , R Davies (Wal) , S Hutsby (Eng) , P Widegren (Swe) , P Oriol (Esp) , B Ritthammer (Ger) , M Delpodio (Ita) , S Fallon (Eng) , M Tullo (Chi) , D Vancsik (Arg) , R Kind (Ned) ,
69 N Johansson (Swe) , F Bergamaschi (Ita) , B An (Kor) , T Remkes (Ned) , C Ford (Eng) , J Lagergren (Swe) , T Lee (USA) , E Espana (Fra) , M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) ,
70 S Tiley (Eng) , A Marshall (Eng) , R Steiner (Aut) , D Frittelli (RSA) , C Brazillier (Fra) , S Brown (Eng) , T Sluiter (Ned) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , P Dwyer (Eng) , M Pilkington (Wal) ,
71 M Wiegele (Aut) , J Fahrbring (Swe) , J Legarrea (Esp) , A Domingo (Esp) , N Lemke (Swe) , R McGowan (Eng) , P Maddy (Eng) , L Kennedy (Eng) , J Stalter (Fra) , J Rask (Swe) , B Evans (Eng) , A Björk (Swe) , J Barnes (Eng) ,
72 J Guerrier (Fra) , A Snobeck (Fra) , O Farr (Wal) , G Cambis (Fra) , P Edberg (Swe) , T Linard (Fra) , J Senior (Eng) , N Kearney (Irl) , O Stark (Swe) , J Gonnet (Fra) , J Garcia Del Moral (Esp) , J Lando Casanova (Fra) , A Johnston (Eng) , N Quintarelli (Ita) , M Jonzon (Swe) , W Besseling (Ned) , T Pilkadaris (Aus) , M Lafeber (Ned) , W Booth (Sco) , J Huldahl (Den) , C Paisley (Eng) ,
73 B Åkesson (Swe) , L Jensen (Den) , B Stone (RSA) , J Sjöholm (Swe) , G Woolgar (Eng) , O Wilson (Eng) , M Haastrup (Den) , S Little (Eng) , N Kimsey (Eng) , C Bouniol (Fra) , L Gagli (Ita) , L Nemecz (Aut) , C Aguilar (Esp) , C Russo (Fra) , T Pulkkanen (Fin) , B Hebert (Fra) , A Rota (Ita) , T Murray (Eng) , J Roos (RSA) ,
74 H Bacher (Aut) , R Coles (Eng) , A Hortal (Esp) , J Makitalo (Fin) , L De Jager (RSA) , Z Scotland (Eng) , P McKechnie (Sco) , D Stewart (Sco) , G Shaw (Nir) , C Mivis (Bel) , M Trappel (Aut) , M Ford (Eng) ,
75 S Arnold (Aus) , N Ravano (Ita) , D Coupland (Eng) , M Orrin (Eng) , J Kennegard (Swe) , J Sim (Kor) , K Clement (USA) , C Arendell (USA) , H Joannes (Bel) ,
76 V Groenewald (RSA) , G Lockerbie (Eng) , D Kemmer (USA) , P Gustafsson (Swe) , J Harrison (Eng) , J Winther (Den) , K Horne (RSA) , L Goddard (Eng) ,
77 J Garcia Pinto (Esp) , R McEvoy (Eng) , A Tadini (Ita) , A Mayorov (Rus) , S Henry (Sco) ,
78 P Relecom (Bel) , J Elson (Eng) , O Floren (Swe) ,
79 G Hall (Eng) , D Law (Sco) ,
80 J Edfors (Swe) , J Palmer (Eng) ,
85 A Vongay (Kaz) ,
90 N Saldarov (am) (Kaz) ,
94 N Makulbekov (am) (Kaz) ,
Source: European Tour