BIRMINGHAM – Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez led a Spanish charge in the European Tour’s latest stop in England, shooting a course-record 10-under 62 in the opening round of the Hero Open on Thursday.
Garcia Rodriguez set the pace at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club course with a round that included two eagles and eight birdies.
The 31-year-old raced to the turn in 29 with five birdies and an eagle and although he bogeyed the 10th, he responded with birdies on the 13th and 14th and finished eagle-birdie after a dropped shot on the 16th.
“For me it’s incredible,” Garcia Rodriguez said. “I was so close to the hole the whole time, the irons were incredible and it’s amazing. It’s my dream all the time to be on the European Tour and it’s my first low score.”
Fellow Spaniards Pablo Larrazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez finished with a share of second place two shots back.
Jimenez, 56, who made his first start at the 1983 Benson and Hedges Spanish Open and is playing his record 707th European Tour appearance, was greeted by applauding players when he reached the green on the 18th hole.
“It’s been a wonderful day,” said Jimenez, who matched Sam Torrance’s previous record of 706 in last week’s British Masters.
“Eight under par with a beautiful summer day and especially now on the 18th here with all my colleagues clapping for me, it’s emotional. I appreciate that very much. Some of them are new players, some I’ve known for many years. It was really nice, very emotive.
“I enjoy everything about my life here. This is a way of living; it’s not only about business, it’s a way of living and golf is my life. You never remember any dull moments.”
Oliver Farr of Wales was another shot back in fourth after finishing his first round with a 7-under 65 with England’s Ashley Chesters and Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard a stroke further back.
Scotland’s David Drysdale carded a one-over-par 73 on his 500th European Tour start.
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