Norway's Krogh Johannessen leads Spanish Armada at Mutuactivos Open de España

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Norway's Krogh Johannessen leads Spanish Armada at Mutuactivos Open de España

Euro Tour

Norway's Krogh Johannessen leads Spanish Armada at Mutuactivos Open de España

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Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen leads the Mutuactivos Open de España after an opening-round 63. He’ll have to replicate that form over the next three rounds if he wants to hold off a Spanish Armada intent on acquiring their national trophy.

Including defending champion and World No. 5 Jon Rahm.

Johannessen is a Qualifying School graduate who’s made just four of 18 cuts on the main tour this season. He missed the weekend in his first eight starts after earning the 20th card at last year’s Q School. He’s currently 235th on the Race to Dubai.

The 24-year-old made up for lost time in the opening round with a bogey-free effort thanks to recruiting a friend to loop for him around Madrid’s tough Club de Campo layout. He sits one shot ahead of Spain’s Adria Arnaus, and three shots in front of a group that includes Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

“I’m out there having fun and playing smart,” Johannessen said. “It’s a tricky course, but I’ve got a friend on the bag this week and we’re having fun out there.

“I just need to keep calm, play my own game and not get stressed out there. It’s a bit tricky, so if you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool and play my own game.”

Rahm might have scored lower than 66 if he could have handled the greens better.

“It’s a tough golf course, you need to drive it well – and I did,” he said. “The greens were perfect. They are the best greens I’ve putted on in Spain in my career as an amateur and as a pro. Me, Rafa and Adri played really well, especially on that front nine. Adri got it going really well and me and Rafa were trying to catch up.

“My biggest challenge early on, and the reason I missed so many putts, is because I was trying to get the pace of the greens. They were so fast.”

Cabrera Bello went bogey-free to get into contention for his first win since the 2017 Scottish Open.

“It was a bogey-free round, but it didn’t feel like it,” he said. “There were a few occasions where I got into trouble and managed to save myself. I controlled my game the entire day, gave myself some chances and putted well.”

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