Welshman Garry Houston set a hot pace in the first round of the €50,000 ‘The Invitational Pro-Am’, shooting a six under par 66 in the first round at the Laranjal Course at Portugal’s Quinta do Lago on The Algarve, but was pipped to the post at the very last minute by Swede, Matthias Bohlin.
Standing on the 18th tee, the 44-year old former European Tour regular from Wrexham, Houston, had eight birdies on his card.
However, his final drive on a beautiful sunlit day finished in a bunker and then, having chipped out, his foot slipped as he tried to hit the green with his three wood.
“I had never played the course before,” said Garry. “But it was in a beautiful condition and I played some really good golf.
“I had a couple birdies early on but I really got going when I hit a three wood into 12 feet at the long par-three seventh. It was just a pity then to end the round with a double-bogey.”
Andre Bossart was only two shots behind Garry and there was a name to watch out for in the future in third place.
Bradley Neil, a 19-year-old from Blairgowrie in Scotland, only turned professional four months ago but played consistent golf for a 70 that had included three birdies and just one bogey.
And because he hit so many greens Bradley could not recall having to sink a long putt to save pars. “I had three testers of around six feet, but I holed them all,” he said.
However, as early evening darkness began to set in a new leader emerged in the shape of Sweden’s Matthias Bohlin.
His card of 65 included three eagles. Not unusually two of them were recorded on par fives but he also chipped in for a two at the par-four second.
The early pro-am leaders on a day when the first round was left incomplete by the light were Pro John henry and his partner John French whose shot a betterball 61.
But they too had left the course when two late finishing pairs handed in 12 under par 60s. They were Roberto Mangifesta and Professional, Emmanuele Canonica, and Round 01 Professional leader, Bohlin, and his partner Mark Anderson.
But just three shots adrift of them were European Tour regular Bradley Dredge and his partner Daphne Fagan. And their 63 was more reflective of the golf played by the amateur because Bradley’s score in the professional tournament was a two over par 74.
But the day’s amateur glory belonged to 43-year-old Italian amateur, Roberto Mangifesta. The 14-handicapper sank his rescue three iron for a hole in one at the 191-yard par three 15th.