ANTALYA, Turkey: Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts took full advantage of his length off the tee in shooting a seven-under par 64 to share the lead on day one of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya.
Colsaerts was the very first to tee-off at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort course on Thursday and capped his round with a 12th-hole eagle along with six birdies in ideal scoring conditions.
The only real worry for Colsaerts was arriving at the scorer’s hut to find the door locked.
The 34-year-old was later joined by South African Haydn Porteous and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
“It felt good out there and I was in control of what I was doing all day,” said the Belgian, who reaped the benefits of a recent switch to a new driver.
“It did take a few holes to get going but once I did, I started to get on a roll. I had a nice eagle on 12 that kept everything going including a birdie at the next.
“The big key today was my driver as I have changed to another Callaway driver. It seems like I can do what I want with this one a bit more. I’m really happy with the way it’s been going.
“I’ve been using it since the British Masters and the results that I have done are basically because I’m a bit more comfortable off the tee and I can use that good driving, which was, you know, one of the main or key things that I did well in the past.
“Once I’m comfortable off the tee and show up with half a strike, I’m always going to be there.”
Colsaerts’ opening-round effort again boosted hopes of ending a five-year winless drought with a third European Tour victory.
The Johannesburg-born Porteous recorded his equal-lowest European Tour score — a bogey-free display of seven birdies matched a 64 he posted during May’s Rocco Forte Open in Sicily.
And Porteous could not have been happier given he is lying 64th on the Race to Dubai — just outside the top 60 players who will contest the season-ending DP World Tour Championship starting on November 16th.
“I needed a really big start and put myself on the right foot heading into these next couple of weeks to get me into DP World,” he said.
“So, to shoot a bogey-free 64 is exactly what I was looking for.”
Luiten was also delighted after recording his lowest score all season and in his first event since finishing runner-up at the Andalucia Masters in Spain a fortnight ago.
“I putted really well all day and holed some really nice, nice putts,” said the 39-year old.
“Finishing second like I did in Spain, coming down the stretch and trying to win a golf tournament, it builds your confidence.
“I knew I was playing well but it’s nice to see some results, as well, coming your way. Hopefully I can keep the same feeling coming down these last three tournaments here.”
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Argentina’s Andres Romero share fourth place with six-under-par rounds of 65.
Harrington capitalised on his tournament invitation with a best round of the year in an injury-plagued season.
“I played nicely and didn’t really get in trouble at any stage during the day,” he said.
“I wasn’t really out of position. A nice number of chances, converted a few of them, and it was a pretty easy 6-under par. I just wish they were all like that.”
Justin Rose, the winner of last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, fought back from taking a double-bogey at his second hole to record a two-under-par 69.