The back nine at Valderrama is no place for the faint-hearted and it proved testing for Paul Dunne as he made four bogeys and posted a two over 73 in the opening round of the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
France’s Alexander Levy holds a one shot lead thanks to an impressive five under par round of 66 on a day of typically tough scoring in Andalucía.
Only 15 players finished under par at the former Ryder Cup and Volvo Masters venue where Dunne ended the day tied for 36th after following a front nine featuring eight pars and a lone birdie at the par-five fourth with a homeward nine of 39.
While he managed a birdie at the famous par-five 17th, Dunne hit just nine greens in regulation and bogeys arrived at the 11th, 12th, 15th and 18th.
On a day when Peter Lawrie, reunited with coach Brendan McDaid opened with a birdie at the 10th but made just one more in a six over 77, two-time European Tour winner Levy mixed five birdies with two bogeys on his front nine, then birdied his first two holes after the turn, as he returned his ‘best round since last year’.
Levy has a single stroke advantage from Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares, Englishman Andrew Johnston, Welshman Stuart Manley and defending champion James Morrison, all of whom carded rounds of 67, with Cañizares closing his round with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal is a further shot back after an opening 68, while his compatriot Jordi Garcia Pinto, Swede Joakim Lagergren, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer a three shots off the pace on two under par.
Tournament host Sergio Garcia, who won the Andalucía Masters at Real Club Valderrrama in 2011, posted three birdies and six bogeys as he opened with a three over par round of 74.
It is a very tough golf course, in fantastic condition and I played really well today. I putted well and did everything well. I got a bit lucky two or three times, but it was a good 66. It is nice to shoot it on a course like Valderrama which is special.
I like it when it is a tough course because it is not a putting contest. You need to play well tee to green and that’s the way I like to play.
Today was my best round since last year. That is good for me and I stayed positive during the day. I’m really happy with how I played.
Anytime you beat par on this course is pretty good – I’d have taken 71 at the start. These sort of courses I tend to do quite well around. My distance control is quite good normally, I’m pretty straight off the tee, and I keep the ball in play. It reminds me of a Tour School course at PGA Catalunya, and I usually do quite well there.
I was very disciplined and I putted very well today. I hit a lot of three irons off the tee to hit the fairway then hit a lot of wedges trying to hit the greens and not be greedy. I tried not to be too aggressive. In the practice round I realised you just have to hit greens here and not make mistakes. I know the reputation of this course, sometimes you accept you are going to be 15 or 20 feet away.
I played here in 2010 and 2011 and I wasn’t mentally prepared for this course. I was two years on Tour and I was an angry man. I’m now mentally better to play this course and embrace it and play it for what it is. Coming here now, I feel like I am ready to play here and I look forward to playing it. Before I wanted to get home quickly. It is a beautiful place and it almost feels like the European Augusta. It’s the nearest I’ve got to playing Augusta so far anyway.
It was a great day. Not much wind and the course is in perfect shape and I played some very good golf. I didn’t make many mistakes and rolled some putts in so I’m happy. You’ve got to place the ball off the tee and make some birdie putts which aren’t easy. The greens are firm, so I’m happy to finish with two birdies in the last two and I’m very proud of my round.
Complete round one scores
66 A Levy (Fra),
67 S Manley (Wal), A Johnston (Eng), A Cañizares (Esp), J Morrison (Eng),
68 P Larrazábal (Esp),
69 R Ramsay (Sco), J Lagergren (Swe), M Kaymer (Ger), J Garcia Pinto (Esp),
70 G Bourdy (Fra), J Luiten (Ned), R Davies (Wal), M Kieffer (Ger), R Fisher (Eng),
71 R Jacquelin (Fra), C Lee (Sco), R Bland (Eng), A Sullivan (Eng), L Slattery (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den), T Fleetwood (Eng),
72 E De La Riva (Esp), D Dixon (Eng), R Fox (Nzl), R Gouveia (Por), P Angles (Esp), C Wood (Eng), J Carlsson (Swe), J Lara (Esp), N Elvira (Esp), S Webster (Eng), G Havret (Fra), D Drysdale (Sco), C Hanson (Eng),
73 P Lawrie (Sco), G Fdez-Castaño (Esp), M Kinhult (Swe), T Linard (Fra), S Gros (Fra), P Dunne (Irl), R Kakko (Fin), S Chawrasia (Ind), T Pieters (Bel), B Dredge (Wal), B Virto Astudillo (Esp), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), J Quesne (Fra), H Porteous (RSA), J Robinson (Eng), G Migliozzi (am) (Ita),
74 R Cabrera Bello (Esp), B Stone (RSA), B Evans (Eng), E Molinari (Ita), N Bertasio (Ita), R Sterne (RSA), T Olesen (Den), A Otaegui (Esp), G Storm (Eng), S Garcia (Esp), M Siem (Ger),
75 R Wattel (Fra), M Warren (Sco), R Green (Aus), M Nixon (Eng), R Evans (Eng), M Ilonen (Fin), A Noren (Swe), S Benson (Eng), X Guzman (Esp), J Sandelin (Swe), C Shinkwin (Eng), J Knutzon (USA), P Hanson (Swe), R Rock (Eng), S Fernandez (Esp), P Edberg (Swe), B Etchart (Esp), D Gavins (Eng), R Paratore (Ita), P Uihlein (USA), D Lipsky (USA), B Åkesson (Swe),
76 A Wall (Eng), M Carlsson (Swe), J Hugo (RSA), F Aguilar (Chi), T Bjørn (Den), C Pigem (Esp), J Winther (Den), J Fahrbring (Swe), R McEvoy (Eng), N Colsaerts (Bel), J McLeary (Sco)
77 H Otto (RSA), A Quiros (Esp), P Lawrie (Irl), A McArthur (Sco), S Khan (Eng), E Pepperell (Eng), J Walters (RSA), D Brooks (Eng), N Fasth (Swe), J Van Zyl (RSA),
78 E España (Fra), D Horsey (Eng), L Jensen (Den), C Paisley (Eng), W Ormsby (Aus), O Fisher (Eng), R Dinwiddie (Eng), G Stal (Fra), M Southgate (Eng), K Broberg (Swe), J Campillo (Esp), M Baldwin (Eng), C Del Moral (Esp), S Jamieson (Sco),
79 M Madsen (Den), J Busby (Eng), G Boyd (Eng), M Manassero (Ita), O Wilson (Eng), I Cantero Gutierrez (am) (Esp),
80 F Zanotti (Par), F Laporta (Ita), M Galiano Aguilar (am) (Esp),
81 C Berardo (Fra), T Levet (Fra), N Ravano (Ita), L Bjerregaard (Den), L Canter (Eng), J Hahn (USA), J Parry (Eng), M Ford (Eng), D Im (USA), L Nemecz (Aut), S Hend (Aus),
82 K Ferrie (Eng), S Hansen (Den),
86 P Martin Benavides (Esp).