Colsaerts thrilled by fine start

Basildon Recorder: Nicolas Colsaerts finished on three under after the first round Nicolas Colsaerts finished on three under after the first round

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts was thrilled by the start he made on Thursday to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles - an event where a top two finish will give him a Ryder Cup debut next month.

The big-hitting 29-year-old shot a three under par 69 to be one behind early clubhouse leader Thorbjorn Olesen and said: "Exactly the day I wanted - something not very stressful."

Colsaerts has a good chance of a wild card if necessary, but rightly feels that qualifying for the team automatically would be a "big boost" to his confidence heading into the match in Chicago.

He was playing with one of captain Jose Maria Olazabal's assistants Thomas Bjorn - also this week's defending champion - and the Dane commented: "We all know what Nicolas can do. He is in good form and you can see his confidence is high.

"I'm pleased with what I saw."

Bjorn himself kicked off with a 70, while Colsaerts came back from an early bogey with five birdies in seven holes around the turn. He was leading at that point, but three-putted the 468-yard seventh - his 15th - after missing from three feet.

England's David Lynn, runner-up in the USPGA Championship a fortnight ago and with an outside chance of a wild card, shot a one under 71, while Olazabal himself was a late starter, as were Scot Paul Lawrie and Italian Francesco Molinari, the only two certain members of the team playing in the event.

Bjorn's compatriot Olesen had his first tour win in Sicily in April and led on his own by one from not only Colsaerts, but also England's Richard Finch, Scot Richie Ramsay and Australian Daniel Gaunt, a late replacement for former BMW PGA champion Simon Khan, who pulled out just before the start with a wrist injury.

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey came unstuck with golf's rules for the second tournament running as he opened with a 71.

At the USPGA Championship Hoey disqualified himself when he realised he should have replaced sand over his ball and this time he received a two-stroke penalty because, taking relief from ground under repair, he placed his ball instead of dropping it first when preferred lies were in operation.

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