Golf

Marc Warren hits front in Portugal while Padraig Harrington sits three back

Padraig Harrington is three shots off the lead at the Portugal Masters after opening with a five-under-par round of 66
Padraig Harrington is three shots off the lead at the Portugal Masters after opening with a five-under-par round of 66 Padraig Harrington is three shots off the lead at the Portugal Masters after opening with a five-under-par round of 66

Scotland’s Marc Warren shot an eight-under-par 63 to top the leaderboard following the opening day of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura yesterday.

The 35-year-old began with six successive birdies at Victoria Clube de Golfe before adding a further three after blemishing his card slightly with a bogey on the seventh.

Eddie Pepperell also made a strong start to the competition as he seeks to secure his Tour card for next season.

The 25-year-old, who needs to retain his current ranking of 110th in the Race to Dubai to make the cut, sits one shot off the overnight lead in joint-second position with Finn Mikko Korhonen, America’s David Lipsky and the British pair of Matthew Baldwin and Callum Shinkwin.

Baldwin needs a top-two finish this week to keep his card and he hit eight birdies in the opening round, although a bogey on the seventh blotted his copybook.

Chris Paisley is among a group of five players a shot further back on six-under, along with Swede Jens Fahrbring, who also needs a top-two finish, and Spaniards Alejandro Canizares and Nacho Elvira.

Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, who chipped in for an eagle on the par-four 15th, will resume on five-under on this morning, with Ben Evans, Ryan Evans, Paul Lawrie and Oliver Fisher also tied on the same score.

However, Michael Hoey’s quest to retain his card for next season appears to be a hopeless one.

The Belfast man needs a top two finish this week to move into the top 110 positions, but he could only manage a two-over round of 73 and is in danger of missing his eighth successive cut.

Defending champion Andy Sullivan, who last year secured victory by a tournament-record nine shots, is four strokes off the pace on four-under.

He praised his supporters –dubbed ‘Sully’s Army’ – for helping him through a bogey-free opening round.

“Front nine, I felt a little bit down the way I was playing and not really converting and they (the supporters) kept me going for a long time there,” he said.

“Then the back nine I started to play better and give myself more chances.”

Paul Casey birdied four of the last five holes to lie one shot off the lead after the first round of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

The Englishman, who is chasing a first PGA Tour win since 2009 and has finished in the top four in his last four tournaments, shot an opening 65 in Kuala Lumpur.

He trails defending champion Justin Thomas and fellow Americans Derek Fathauer and Keegan Bradley, who all went round in eight-under par yesterday.

Casey dropped a shot on the par-five third but was two-under at the turn following gains at the fifth, seventh and ninth.

Further shots were picked up on the 11th and 14th before three successive birdies rounded off a solid start.

Thomas had nine birdies in his round, with a bogey on the sixth his only blemish.

Fathauer was flawless in his 64 while Bradley birdied six of the first eight holes before eagling the 10th.

Dropped shots on the 11th and 13th checked his momentum but he recovered with birdies at the 16th and 17th.

Sergio Garcia rolled in a 22-foot eagle putt on the third as he lies in a share of sixth, three shots off the lead.

Australian Adam Scott, who finished a stroke behind winner Thomas last year, started with a two-under 70 while England’s Ian Poulter, on his return from a foot injury, is a shot further back.