SEVILLE, Spain – Ricardo Gonzalez set a hot early morning pace in the first round of the Open De Espana with a 7-under 65 on Thursday.
Paul Waring of England was a stroke behind Gonzalez, a 40-year-old Argentine who’s achieved two of his four European Tour victories Spain. He also has a taste for the Real Club de Golf de Seville, having won the Seville Open in 2004.
Top Sports storiesMascot collides with cop “The rough here is very thick this year,” said Gonzalez, who had eight birdies and one bogey during his round. “It’s like a U.S. Open setup. Sometimes you can only hit the ball 50 yards forward … But the key to my round was driving. I only went in the rough three times.”
Among a group of six players tied for third after rounds of 68 were Sebi Garcia of Spain, who was making his debut on the European Tour almost in defiance of golfing opinion.
The 28-year-old from Mallorca was born with a spinal deformity and cannot swing the club with the full freedom usually demanded by the sport at the highest level. Yet his natural talent has been evident ever since he shot a 58 on Spain’s National pro tour in 2009.
“My back is a problem and I have to take care of it,” Garcia said. “And I was nervous playing at this level for the first time, so I was really pleased with that score.”
Waring, the former English Amateur champion from Liverpool, shot his 6-under 66 despite having his travel arrangement to Spain being disrupted by the volcano in Iceland. After the China Open, he was stranded in the United Arab Emirates and reached Seville on Wednesday.
“It was a bit of worry because the first scheduled flight that I could get booked on out of Dubai was on May 1, but then fortunately I managed to get a plane earlier,” he said.
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie was set to open with a 2-under 70 until he three-putted the ninth, his last hold of the day. The Scot’s concentration was broken by loud pop music from the nearby tented village and, although he was told it had been turned down, he vented his fury on tournament director Miguel Vidaor.
“Should never have happened in the first place,” shouted Montgomerie, before adding with an expletive deleted: “Is this a party or a golf tournament?”