Sweden’s Johan Carlsson set the pace on the opening day of the BMW PGA Championship, taking advantage of the immaculate new greens at Wentworth Club with eight birdies in an impressive six under par round of 66.
Carlsson made a blistering start to the European Tour’s new Rolex Series, reaching the turn in just 30 shots courtesy of five birdies on the front nine, and he picked up three more shots on way in, although his back nine was bookended by bogeys on the tenth and 18th holes.
“It was fun today,” he said. “It’s a big event this year, and you kind of feel it with the atmosphere. Everything is big around this tournament, and obviously you want to do good.
“The greens are so good. I love this golf course right now. I think it has become so much better, and I think a lot of other players probably agree with me, as well, on that point.
Carlsson holds a one shot advantage over Italian Francesco Molinari, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, while Carlsson’s compatriot Henrik Stenson, the Open Champion, is one of nine players a further shot back on four under par after a bogey-free 68, with all four of his birdies arriving on the back nine.
England’s Ross Fisher and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, both of whom have previously finished runner-up in the BMW PGA Championship, are also amongst that group, along with Ryder Cup player Thomas Pieters who bogeyed the closing hole.
A crowd of 20,692 people – the second largest Thursday crowd in the event’s history – watched the opening round and they were treated to innovations including a new entertaining first tee experience.