Selfridge keeps Challenge Tour streak going at Saint Omer
 Co-leader Terry Pilkadaris. Picture: Getty Images

Co-leader Terry Pilkadaris. Picture: Getty Images

Simon Thornton leads the Irish after carding a first round 69 in the €200,000 Najeti Open Presented by Neuflize OBC.

But the level par 71 that leaves rookie Chris Selfridge tied for 30th with the in-form Ruaidhri McGee, five shots behind co-leaders Terry Pilkadaris of Australia and Belgian Hugues Joannes, is a testament to how well he’s adapted to life on tour.

On a day when Gareth Shaw shot a one-over 72, Gareth Maybin a 74 and Alan Dunbar a 77, Moyola Park star Selfridge continues to look comfortable on the Challenge Tour.

He’s already 84th in the Road to Oman rankings after going T17 and T13 in his first two starts since turning professional and hopes to make hay for the next three weeks and give himself a chance of winning his European Tour card come the autumn.

As for the leaders both  Pilkadaris  and Belgian Joannes carded rounds of 66 at Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club, in northern France, to lead by one stroke from Australian Ryan Fox, Finland’s Roope Kakko and Italian Nicolo Ravano. 

Pilkadaris birdied the fifth and ninth holes on his front nine, before reeling off a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th.

The 41 year old made his only bogey of the day on the 15th hole, but regained a shot on the 17th to sign for his joint lowest round of the season. 

Pilkadaris is playing in the tournament for the sixth time, with a share of 19th place last year his best finish to date, and he feels his knowledge of the tricky at Aa Saint-Omer GC could prove beneficial this week. 

“On this golf course, it’s a real advantage to know the place,” he said. “Most of the players near the top of the leaderboard are experienced guys, they know how to draw the ball.

“I played a practice round with Ryan Fox, it’s his first visit here. I helped him to discover the course and to respect it, where to hit. And I know Roope likes this place very much, he likes the challenge. So it’s not a surprise to see him in with a good score.”

At the other end of the experience spectrum, Joannes is making only his second appearance in the tournament, but after missing the cut on his debut last year, the 26 year old is getting to grips with the quirks and contours of the Lumbres layout.  

He said: “It’s a very nice feeling to lead. I played here last year, but the course is in very different condition this time. The fairways are much drier, and although the greens are soft the course is playing much faster. It’s so important to know this golf course. All day long it’s a battle, and if you drop a shot it’s important to stay calm and be patient. 

“The greens are really difficult to read as well, but I hit quite it close to the flags today which makes life much easier and takes the pressure off your putting. 

“The wind is supposed to pick up tomorrow, but we had good practice with that in Belgium last week! The wind doesn’t really bother me anyway, as my trajectory is quite low.”

Round One Scores

66 T Pilkadaris (Aus), H Joannes  (Bel) ,

67 P Whiteford (Sco), N Ravano (Ita), R Kakko (Fin), R Fox (Nzl), 

68 S Gros (Fra), J Fahrbring (Swe), T Remkes (Ned), W Booth  (Sco), F Andersson Hed (Swe), S Henry (Sco) ,

69 S Hodgson (Eng), B Chapellan (Fra), M Schneider (Ger), T Linard (Fra), J Doherty  (Sco), Simon Thornton (Irl), S Kim (USA), E Dubois (Fra), 

70 R Gouveia (Por), C Brazillier (Fra), J Hansen  (Den), J Rask (Swe), P Meesawat  (Tha), A Snobeck  (Fra), M Fenasse (Fra), C Gloet  (Den), J Rutherford (Eng), 

71 J Dantorp (Swe), S Fernoux (Fra), J Walters (RSA), Chris Selfridge  (Nir), C Hanson (Eng), M Radureau (Fra), Ruaidhri McGee (Irl), K Le Sager (Fra), S Heisele (Ger), O Bekker (RSA), A Grenier  (Fra), J Grillon  (Fra), M Orrin (Eng), V Riu  (Fra), S Walker (Eng), B Stone (RSA), R Coles (Eng), S Einhaus (Ger), D Im (USA), M Wiegele  (Aut) 

72 B Stow (Eng), M Delpodio  (Ita), M Bremner (RSA), B Paolini (USA), E Saltman  (Sco), S Manley (Wal), C Shinkwin (Eng), C Berardo (Fra), Y El Hassani (Mar), E Cuartero Blanco  (Esp), T Nemecz (Aut), J Stalter (Fra), A McArthur  (Sco), G Murray  (Sco), T Sluiter  (Ned), Gareth Shaw (Nir), W Harrold (Eng), J Watts (Eng), C Aguilar  (Esp), B Hafthorsson (Isl), P Dwyer (Eng), 

73 S Jeppesen  (Swe), G Woolgar (Eng), D Stewart (Sco), J Gallegos  (Esp), A Marshall (Eng), P Figueiredo  (Por), A Kaleka  (Fra), D Gaunt (Eng), J Glennemo (Swe), R Santos  (Por), S Wakefield (Eng), L Gagli  (Ita), J Gonnet  (Fra), J Makitalo  (Fin), D Vancsik (Arg), G Porteous (Eng), 

74 S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), J Scrivener (Aus), T Sinnott (Aus), E Bertheussen (Nor), S Soderberg (Swe), J Senior (Eng), J Billing (Swe), P Widegren  (Swe), D Antonelli (Fra), Z Lombard  (RSA), O Rozner  (Fra), K Subregis  (Fra), J Ballesteros (Esp), A Joudar (Mar), D Huizing (Ned), D Law (Sco), J Lima  (Por), G Maybin (Nir), J Guerrier  (Fra), F Calmels  (Fra), N Quintarelli (Ita), S Akarsu (am) (Tur), 

75 D Woltman (USA), N Elvira  (Esp), R Kellett (Sco), S Griffiths (Eng), J Lopez Lazaro (Fra), G Lockerbie  (Eng), A Knappe (Ger), A Anghert (Fra), X Ruiz Fonhof  (Ned), R Davies (Wal), J Verselin (Fra), N Roche (Fra), J Lucquin (Fra), D Dixon (Eng), F Bergamaschi (Ita), M Decottignies-Lafon (Fra), 

76 J Heath  (Eng), A Saddier (Fra), D Coupland (Eng), M Rocchi  (Fra), P Archer (Eng), D Bobrowski (Fra), R McGowan  (Eng), 

77 N Geyger (Chi), A Gee  (Eng), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), Alan Dunbar (Nir), M Kramer  (Ger), J McLeary  (Sco), C Russo (Fra), A Altuntas (am) (Tur), 

78 G Boyd  (Eng), M Montgaillard (Fra), D Burmester (RSA), N Bertasio (Ita), T Elissalde  (Fra), 

79 E Goya (Arg), S Debiais (Fra), D Palm (Swe), J Robinson (Eng), T Tree (Eng), A Bernadet  (Fra), M Lafeber (Ned), 

80 P Maddy (Eng), 

81 S Fallon (Eng), A Hartø  (Den), 

82 C Rameaux (Fra), 

WD A Rota (Ita).