Carlsson swings to the front
WENTWORTH: Sweden’s Johan Carlsson led the European PGA Championship at Wentworth after shooting a first round 66, sixunder par in the first round on Thursday.
Carlsson held a one shot advantage over Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, from Thailand, who all handed in 67s.
There were a cluster of players a further shot back on 68 including British Open champion Henrik Stenson and his fellow Swede Alex Noren, the world number 13, as the field enjoyed perfect scoring conditions on a revamped West Course without ripping it to pieces.
Carlsson missed six successive cuts recently but found some form at the China Open where he finished 24th and in Sicily last week where he was 18th.
He had three birdies from the third to help him to an outward nine of 30 and came back in 36, one-under par, spoiling his chance to have a bigger lead with bogey at the par-five 18th.
Despite his poor form earlier this season the 30-year-old has always had one eye on this tournament — the European Tour’s flagship event.
“This week is a big week and I’ve always had that goal in mind,” he said after his round.
“This is going to be a tournament to get it around no matter what; play with what you have, and that’s what I did.
“I didn’t try to hit any super fancy shots. I just played with what I had and I think that was the key to success, what I’ve been doing kind of into this tournament.”
Aphibarnrat was out in 31 and held his back nine together whilst Molinari made the most of the two finishing par-5s, recording birdies at both.
Defending champion Chris Wood was round in 72, level par, and joked he would like to see the new greens replaced by the ones from last year.
England’s Ian Poulter, who appeared rejuvenated after finishing second in the Players’ Championship, needs a high finish here to boost his chances of making next month’s US Open.
But he is up against it after a 76, four-over par, which included a solitary birdie.