04 Sep 2020 | Professional golf |

McLeod makes move at brutal Valderrama

by Golf Australia

jake mcleod_image
Jake McLeod on day one of the Andalucia Masters in Spain. (Photo: Getty Images)

- By Justin Falconer

Queensland’s Jake McLeod ground out a tough opening day performance to be two off the pace at the Andalucia Masters.

Real Club Valderrama is widely considered one of the toughest stops on the European Tour’s calendar and McLeod’s even-par-71 was a brilliant return in tough conditions.

The 26-year-old carded two bogeys in his opening six holes but battled hard with birdies at the eighth and ninth holes to be in the red at the turn.

McLeod climbed to 2-under with a fourth birdie of the day at the 14th, but let a potential share of the overnight slip with bogeys at 16 and 18.

McLeod hit just six greens in regulation as blustery conditions complicated an already testing layout. But the 2018 NSW Open champ scrambled to save par on eight occasions, needing just 24 putts on day one.

At the top of the standings, Connor Syme was 2-over-par for his round standing on the 12th tee.

But after picking up a stroke there, the Scot rattled off three birdies in his final three holes to rocket to a share of the Thursday lead.

"To be honest I didn't know how I was scoring,” Syme said.

“It's one of those days where you're just getting on and grinding and it's nice to see a few drop at the end."

Also at 2-under are local Jorge Campillo, Italian Guido Migliozzi and USA’s John Catlin, who raced to 3-under after just four holes.

The leading quartet all took to the course in the morning wave.

Spaniard Pep Angles is alone at 1-under, with McLeod one of six players to card a 71 and be one stroke further back.

Danish journeyman Soren Kjeldsen was the only player of the 11 to shoot 71 or better that battled the afternoon's winds.

South Australia’s Wade Ormsby was the next best of the Australians, his 3-over-74 spoiled late in the day by a double-bogey on the par-5 17th.

Ormsby currently sits 117th on the Race To Dubai rankings while McLeod is 131st, with the top 110 players at season’s end normally earning a Tour card for the following year.

However the European Tour’s Keith Pelley has assured all players will retain the status they earned last season for 2021.

Young gun Zach Murray’s 6-over opening effort in Spain has him flirting with the cut line, while Jason Scrivener (8-over 79) and Maverick Antcliff (9-over 80) have work to do on Friday.

No Australians are teeing it up at this week’s Northern Ireland Open on Europe’s men’s development circuit, the Challenge Tour.

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