Paul Casey continued his mastery of Colin Montgomerie-designed golf courses at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal to fly into share of the seven under par lead before play was suspended for the day at the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The Englishman’s last two European Tour victories – the 2011 Volvo Golf Champions and this year’s Irish Open – have come on Montgomerie courses, and the 36 year old is hoping to make it a hat-trick in Turkey after his flying start saw him compile an eagle, six birdies and a single dropped shot in 14 holes to join Darren Fichardt and Steve Webster in a share of the lead before play was called for the day.
“I seem to play very well around Monty’s golf courses,” smiled Casey. “I won in Bahrain a couple of years ago and then Carton House this year. I do enjoy his golf courses. I have no idea why, but maybe the fact that you can be incredibly aggressive does bode well for me.
“I made a very aggressive start with eagle at the first hole and this is a golf course that seems to offer a lot of opportunities starting out. I probably aim for the stick probably too frequently, but you could get away with it today – if you have an opportunity to go at flag and a good yardage, you have to take it. It was foot flat to the floor today and just fire at the pins, take advantage of the soft conditions we’ve got and see what happens.
“The field is exceptionally strong and with the layout of the golf course, and the way it is set up, I fully expect somebody is going to get to maybe 20 plus under par this week.”
With overnight thunderstorms lingering around the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, there was a three-hour morning delay to the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open, but once play got underway the players lit up the third event of The European Tour’s Final Series and the penultimate tournament in the 2013 Race to Dubai.
Fichardt also managed to play 14 holes of his first round, birdieing half of them, while Webster reached a share of the lead in the space of 12 holes.
Ricardo Gonzalez and Thorbjørn Olesen were two of only 15 players to finish their first rounds, with the Argentinean and the Dane each signing for a pair of six under par 66s.
Henrik Stenson, playing alongside World Number One Tiger Woods and US Open Champion Justin Rose, made a fine start, moving to four under through 11 holes to keep himself ahead of his nearest Race to Dubai Challengers in the field; Rose (one under through 11) and Ian Poulter (three under through 11).
While the birdies and eagles flew in all over the course, Woods made a more reserved start with two birdies and a single dropped shot in his first 11 holes taking him to one under before the darkness descended on the Montgomerie Maxx and play was called for bad light. Play will resume at 8am local time on Friday morning, with the players finishing the first round before beginning round two, with the tee-times the same as round one.