SEVILLE, Spain – Ricardo Gonzalez shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take the early lead in the first round of the Spanish Open, one stroke ahead of Paul Waring.
The 40-year-old Argentine has won two of his four victories in Spain, including the 2004 Seville Open at the Real Club de Golf.
“I am always happy when I play here,” Gonzalez said shortly after sinking a 10-foot putt on his final hole. “I like the people in Spain and I love the food here. I just always feel comfortable playing golf here.”
The course has changed, however, since he won in 2004.
“The rough here is very thick this year,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like a U.S. Open set up. Sometimes you can only hit the ball 50 yards forward. … But the key to my round was my driving. I only went in the rough three times. Otherwise, I put the ball in the right place to attack the holes.”
Waring, a 25-year-old Englishman, found only eight fairways from the tee.
“I managed to scramble very well whenever I got into trouble,” said Waring, who found a bunker with his drive on the 18th hole and ended up with a bogey.
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie three-putted his final hole, and then complained about music being played in the nearby tented village.
“Is this a party or a golf tournament?” Montgomerie said.