Olympian Pieters one back at Czech Masters

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VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic – Ryan Evans shot a 6-under 66 to take the first round lead at the Czech Masters on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Englishman, who is seeking his first European Tour title, birdied the 18th to finish one stroke ahead of defending champion Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Peter Hanson of Sweden at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague.

''There's a first time for everything,'' Evans said. ''I'm not going to think about it too much tomorrow, I'm just going to stick to the game plan.''

Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, Pieters opened with four birdies on the back nine and surged to a 7 under after two straight birdies on the fifth and sixth holes. But he fell back after a double bogey on the eighth.

''I'm little disappointed how I finished. But all in all it's a good score,'' Pieters said.

Hanson, who produced a flawless round with five birdies, said: ''I'm very happy with my game, it felt solid today.''

A group of seven - Craig Lee and Scott Jamieson of Scotland, Jeff Winther of Denmark, Welshman Bradley Dredge, England's Robert Coles and Graeme Storm, and Swede Robert Karlsson - was one stroke back after carding 68.

Lee Westwood, who hopes to be a wildcard pick for the European Ryder Cup team, shot 70.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is currently in the last spot for the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying, finished with a 3-under 69.

His fellow countryman Andy Sullivan, who is also contention for the matchup against the United States at Hazeltine, ended the round with four bogeys and a double-bogey for a disappointing 3-over 75.