MUNICH, Germany – Bradley Dredge of Wales shot an 8-under 64 to set the early pace in the opening round of the BMW International Open on Thursday.
The 36-year-old Dredge carded six birdies and an eagle to take a one-shot lead over Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat, who had seven birdies of his own in a 65.
Among the morning starters chasing Dredge and Nirat were Simon Thornton from Northern Ireland and Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who both shot 5-under 67s.
Dredge is bidding to make a late run into Europe’s Ryder Cup team to take on the United States in his native Wales in October. But he was loathe to get too excited about his performance – in recent weeks, he has twice shot 67 and also a 66 in the opening rounds of three tournaments in Europe and then failed to produce a top-10 finish over the weekends.
“What I need to find now is greater consistency,” Dredge said. “It’s a matter of just trying to make my poorer rounds better. When I play well, I play well, but I have got to start grinding out a good score on poor days.
“I needed to have a good start here because the way the course is playing, to only start with 2 under could have put me out of contention completely. Now it’s a case of trying to keep it going over four rounds.”
But it was not a good start for two of the biggest names in the field chasing Sunday’s $410,000 winners’ cheque.
South Africa’s Ernie Els, who finished third in the U.S. Open last Sunday, was on 4 under through 14 holes, having started from the 10th tee.
However, at the ninth hole, his last of the day, he drove into a bunker and needed two shots to recover on his way to a bogey six. He signed for a 2-under 70.
” I think tiredness after the journey from America may have come into it,” said Els, who is planning a two-week break from the game before next month’s British Open at St. Andrews.
The ninth hole proved even more troublesome for his playing partner Sergio Garcia, who is currently lying in 18th in the Ryder Cup qualifying standings and is struggling to extend his run of five straight appearances at the event, which this year takes place at Celtic Manor.
The Spaniard drove into trees and failed to find the fairway with his first two recovery attempts. After running up a double bogey seven, he signed for a 5-over 77.