The Mercedes-Benz Championship, hosted by the erstwhile European great Bernhard Langer, is led after the first round by Richard Finch after a six under par 66. The Englishman is a rejuvenated player this year. He grabbed his first European title in December, in New Zealand (it's not in Europe, but it counts...), when he was in serious danger of losing his tour card. He went on to make the most of that win, with his second title coming in May at the Irish Open. On that occasion, he survived a visit to the River Maigue to complete his win. His ball didn't make that visit, he did, playing his third shot on the long 18th there from a dodgy position on the bank, he lost his balance and fell back into the water. Luckily for him, his ball stayed dry and found the front of the green and his victory was secured. He was a bit soggy though.
He was in great birdie making form today, his first three holes were all under par, quickly followed by two more on 6 & 7. A little blip followed, bogey, bogey finished his front nine, but he regained his momentum to post three birdies coming home, leaving him leading beside someone else who is flying just now. Jean-Francois Lucquin was not on many peoples radar before last week, but his excellent win in Switzerland has brought him to the fore and he's clearly enjoying it. The Frenchman only had one bogey on his card and seven birdies to lie co-leader overnight. From nowhere in the world ranking last week, he could be pushing to get into the Top 100 if he keeps this up.
Robert Karlsson was in the mood to show what he can do as he prepares for next weeks Ryder Cup shenanigans. He had a delightful round, chock-full of birdies, which will have pleased Mr Faldo no end to see. Seven birdies, two bogeys, five under, one behind.
Ross Fisher was one over at the turn today, but he enjoyed the back nine, all five of his birdies coming in the second half of his round. Four under par leaves him lying fourth.
Bernhard Langer is trying to become the oldest winner on the European Tour ever this week, and a 2 under par 70 wasn't a bad opening Salvo. The 51 year old Langer has no problem getting up for stiff competition, still, it seems - but then it is his tournament, so perhaps he's had it set up to his liking...