Graeme Storm has launched his bid for a home success at the British Masters in style.
The 39-year-old, fresh from a tie for third place at the Portugal Masters on Sunday, shot a near-perfect opening round in Northumberland yesterday.
If you had offered me 65 before I had teed off I would have taken itGRAEME STORM
Storm sank six birdies in a five-under-par 65 on day one to be in a five-way share of eighth place at Close House.
The Hartlepool golfer was just two strokes behind overnight leaders, George Coetzee, from South Africa, and High Wycombe’s Tyrrell Hatton.
England’s Chris Hanson, Alvaro Quiros, from Spain, and Nordic trio Rikard Karlberg (Sweden) and Mikko Korhonen and Mikko Ilonen (both Finland) were in a group on six under par.
Tournament host Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Major winners, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, were in a pack of players only a shot behind Storm.
Championship favourite Rory McIlroy is not far back at Heddon-on-the-Wall after a three-under-par round of 70, while US Masters champ Sergio Garcia was in a share of 70th after ‘only’ carding a level-par 70.
Storm said: “It was a great day. Getting announced on the first tee was nice, being from the North-East.
“I was a little nervous at times, it was great to see the people I know shouting for me, but there were also a lot of people I don’t know supporting me which was nice.”
His army of fans had plenty to cheer on the opening hole, as he sank a 20-foot putt for a birdie. He repeated the trick at the 188-yard par-three fifth and had another red figure at the par-five sixth.
Storm dropped his only shot of the day with a five at the 399-yard seventh, but his front nine ended superbly with a fourth birdie.
Another birdie followed at the 14 th putt and an excellent putt at the 392-yard 16th took him to five under and right ion the mix.
Storm, playing alongside European tour legend Miguel Angel Jimenez, also held his nerve with a vital save for par at the 17th.
“I left a couple of chances out there but made a couple of par saves at 13 and 17, so I’m happy with 65,” explained Storm.
“If you had offered me 65 before I had teed off, I would have taken it. The course was there to be shot at, to be honest.
“I am enjoying seeing my name up there. There are loads of lads up there capable of shooting low scores.”
Storm was joined on five under by compatriots Lee Slattery and Ashley Chesters, plus Sweden’s Johan Calsson and Joel Stalter, from France.
Danny Willett shot a one under par 69, but defending champion Alex Noren finished one over.