Late double punishes Dunbar

Alan Dunbar. Picture www.golffile.ieWhile it appears that Matteo Manassero can do no wrong, a late double bogey took some of the gloss off Alan Dunbar’s first European Tour start in only his fourth event as a professional.

Last year’s British Amateur champion was crusing along at two under with two to play and comfortably inside the top 25 in the Nordea Masters before a five at the tough par-three 17th saw him card a 72 and  finish the day tied for 61st with Darren Clarke on level par.

Clarke himself was two under with 10 holes to play but needed a birdie at the par-three seventh, his 16th, to shoot level after a run of three bogeys in seven holes.

The Northern Irish pair were the best of the Irish at Bro Hof Slott as Damien McGrane shot a 73, David Higgins a 75 and Peter Lawrie a 76.

At the business end of the leaderboard, 20-year old Manassero took up where he left off following his BMW PGA triumph at Wentworth when he birdied his first six holes and eventually signed for a six under 66 and a share of the first round lead with Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal

“I’ve never started that well - it was a great start,” he said. “I was making putts and to start like that was strange because I’m not used to it.”

After his blistering start a bogey at the 17th was wiped out by a birdie from ten feet at the first and the four-time European Tour winner produced stunning chips at the second and third to scramble par.

There was a second dropped shot of the day at the fifth, but Manassero responded with a magnificent pitch to within a foot at the next to set up a tap-in birdie and sit alongside Spain’s Larrazábal at the top of the leaderboard.

Afterwards Manassero insisted there was no lingering tiredness from his exploits at Wentworth Club last week.

“I’ve been tired but I woke up and I felt good,” he added. “It’s a tough course when the wind picks up so I think every afternoon is going to be hard.”

Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson of Wales shot a flawless 67 to share third place with Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed and Alex Noren and English pair Chris Lloyd and Simon Wakefield on five under.