It wasn’t quite what U.S. Open competitors saw last week at Shinnecock Hills, but high winds and thick rough combined to make scoring difficult Thursday at the BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof in Pulheim, Germany.
France’s Sebastien Gros handled the tough scoring conditions the best, carding a 4-under 68 to take a one-shot lead over Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, Englishman Aaron Rai and Swede Henric Sturehed.
Gros birdied four times on his front nine and gave just one shot back, on a bogey at the par-3 16th.
“Today was very special because the conditions were quite brutal,” Gros said. “There was a lot of wind, sometimes a three-club wind, so it’s a good start. … If we got 72 holes with this wind, it could be our U.S. Open just after the U.S. Open. You have to keep the ball in play and you have to be good on the greens, especially with the wind. The putter has been working today, I just hope it will keep me smiling all week.”
Gros, 28, is a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour in 2015, but had to regain his European Tour card via Q-School last year. He tied for fourth earlier this season at the Tshwane Open, but that’s his only top-10 this season as he is ranked No. 693 in the world rankings.
Campillo, chasing his sixth top-5 finish in 10 events, made three of his five birdies on the front nine. Sturehed, another Q-School grad, also birdied four times on the front nine. He added an eagle at the par-5 13th, but four bogeys kept him out of the lead. Jameison birdied four times in his first seven holes while Rai managed to make just one bogey in his first round.
Tommy Fleetwood, in his first round since his closing 63 at the U.S. Open, shot 74. Ernie Els was part of a big group at 1 under. Martin Kaymer shot 72 while Sergio Garcia carded a 73.