Golf

Eddie Pepperell leads at the Spanish Open

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England's Eddie Pepperell has a one-shot lead after the first round of the Spanish Open on Thursday.

Pepperell shot an opening four-under 68 at PGA Catalunya to finish on top of the tightly-packed leaderboard. Pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia - along with fellow Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rafael Cabrera-Bello - is in a group of eight just one shot behind.

Another eight players are a further shot behind on two under, including Dutchman Joost Luiten and former Open champion Paul Lawrie, who is making his first appearance since the end of January after back and neck injuries.

Pepperell hasn't been in great form this season after finishing 76th on the Race to Dubai during his first tournament last year. This season he has made just three halfway cuts in his last ten events, with his best finish being joint 45th in Abu Dhabi in January.

The 23-year old drew comparison with his form from last year. Pepperell's best finish in 2013 was a tie for sixth in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

"Seemingly it's come out of nowhere looking at my results, but it's very similar to last year," said Pepperell.

"This time last year I started working with Mike (Walker, who also coaches Lee Westwood) and he made a big difference instantly. Then I went and did a couple of my own things, which was a bit silly and cost me a bit of time this year but I feel like I am back on the straight and narrow."

He added: "I back my ability and I know when I am playing well I can shoot good scores. I'm just not at the stage in my career yet when I am playing well enough consistently enough, but hopefully I will get there and today is a good sign.

"It was really tricky when it was flat calm and when I got on the 10th tee all of a sudden the wind came up out of nowhere and was blowing for the whole of the back nine."

Garcia began the tournament as heavy favourite and took advantage of the calm early morning conditions, shooting a 69.

The 34-year old is looking to continue the form that saw him finish third in the Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday and hoping to win this national open for the second time, 12 years after his previous success. 

The world number seven admitted he struggled to sleep following the journey from Florida but managed to card three birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.

"I'm happy with my round," Garcia told Sky Sports. "I didn't have the greatest night last night and only slept for about four hours with the jet lag.

"I didn't feel extremely well with my swing but I managed to put it in play and give myself some good chances at birdies. The course is tough and the fairways are some of the tightest we have played all year.

"With the grass they have in this rough as soon as you miss the fairway it's a guessing game."

Holland's Robert-Jan Derksen hit a hole-in-one of the fifth on his way to a 69. Derksen holed out with his five iron on the 211-yard hole.

Scotland's Richie Ramsey started the day impressively after three consecutive birdies on the first free holes but couldn't make any further shots as he shot a three-under.

Players, caddies and spectators wore black as a mark of respect for Caddie Iain McGregor who died on Sunday while working during the Madeira Islands Open.

A minute's silence was observed at 1540 local time to remember the Zimbabwean caddie who suffered a fatal heart attack on the ninth hole at Santo de Serra.

Fellow caddies also helped put up a large advertising board with a picture of McGregor near the first hole.

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Topics:
European Tour
Golf

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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