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De la Riva and Paratore share Czech lead as Hoey trails

Ballymoney native Michael Hoey is part of a large chasing pack at the Czech Masters 
PA reporter

SPANIARD Eduardo de la Riva holed his second shot for an eagle at the last to take a share of the first round lead at the Czech Masters.

The 33-year-old signed for a seven-under 65, matching his playing partner Renato Paratore, who could manage only a par at the 417-yard 18th after seven birdies in a blemish-free round. That was good enough for a one-shot lead over English duo Matt Fitzpatrick and Sam Hutsby, Swede Pelle Edberg and Belgian Thomas Pieters at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague.

Ballymoney's Michael Hoey and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who holed his approach to the 379-yard fourth for eagle, are in a large group a further stroke back.

Hutsby, starting at the 10th, got off to a flier with three successive birdies - a feat matched by Edberg on his back nine, while Fitzpatrick opened with two birdies on his way to matching Hutsby's back-nine score of 32.

"I've really struggled in my first rounds this year so I thought it would be nice to have an under-par round and take the pressure off making the cut," Hutsby said.

"I think I've done that pretty well and I will set my sights a bit higher this week. It has been a really tough year. I've missed so many cuts by one or two shots, which has been pretty costly. It will give me a confidence boost, a round like that."

Former US Amateur champion Fitzpatrick felt his score could have been even better.

"I played really nicely to start with and was fairly consistent but I didn't really hole any putts though," he said.

"I could have been more under par. It was almost a bit frustrating. I'm delighted to come in six under but I missed a few chances on the last six holes. It means a lot that people are talking about me as one of the favourites to win.

"It's something I never thought I'd have in my first year out here (on tour). It's something you dream about growing up. You watch TV and you want to be the guy winning and challenging all the time. It's what you want and it means a lot to me." 

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