VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic — Former Open champion Henrik Stenson and Maverick Antcliff both shot a 5-under 67 to share the lead after the opening round of the Czech Masters on Thursday.
Stenson hit an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole and added three birdies for a flawless round to impress Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, who was playing alongside the Swede.
“I’m very happy with the score,” said Stenson, who hasn’t won on the European Tour since his 2016 British Open victory. “I hit some really good shots, on nine in particular, those two good ones. There were a couple of swings I’m not overly happy with – my commitment – I’ve been working hard on the swing, I need to keep on working hard.”
Australia’s Antcliff, seeking his first European Tour title, finished with six birdies and a bogey.
“I got off to a solid start and tried to keep things moving forward,” Antcliff said.
Nine players were one shot back tied for third.
They include Ryder Cup hopeful Danny Willett of England, 2016 Czech Masters champion Paul Peterson of the United States, and home favorite Ondrej Lieser of the Czech Republic.
Willett is trying to get on the European Ryder Cup team and a win at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague would put him in contention. Europe faces the U.S. at Whistling Straits in September.
“It’d be amazing to be on the team, it’d probably have to be with a pick this late on,” Willett said. “Nice to play good golf, regardless.”
Harrington carded a 70 to tie for 18th.
The Czech Masters returned to European Tour after one-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.