Sweden’s Alex Noren ties course record, as local aspirants stumble

Alex Noren of Sweden blistered a receptive Port Royal Golf Course, tying the course record with a ten-under-par 61, that gave him a two stroke lead at the end of Thursday, with play suspended due to darkness with four groups still to finish the first round.

With sunshine bathing the course all day and minimal wind, even on the shoreline, Noren exhibited irrepressible form the moment the starter called his name at the first, taking full advantage of what is the PGA tour’s shortest layout at just over 6,800 yards.

Noren gobbled up birdies at one, two an three, before parring four and bogeying the par five fifth, but that would be a lone blemish on a ravenous round of golf.

Six, seven and nine accounted for more birdies, as the Swede made the turn at five under and continued to attack the back, with five more birdies, including an awesome two at the picturesqe, but often treacherous 16th, a par-three.
In the end Noren, who’s best finish this year was a tie for fourth at the Cadence Bank Houston Open, produced a tournament record 11 birdies and stood in great position to progress toward the weekend.

Asked to assess his round a pleased Noren said: “Yeah, very happy. I mean, it was quite easy conditions and there’s a lot of wedges out there, but I improved the wedges a lot coming from Japan where I struggled with them, so I’m very, very happy. It was great to get a 10 under.

“It was a long time ago I had like a really low round, you know, lower than maybe 5, 6 under, so I feel good.”
Close on Noren’s heels after one round are ??? and ????, while pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott of Australia lurks three shots off the pace after carding a six-under 65.

“It was lots of good stuff,” said Scott, a former Masters winner. “ I think I made nine — well, I made seven birdies and an eagle, so that’s all good.

“I just got a little unstuck on these long par 3s, I didn’t hit any of those greens. If you’re missing greens, it can be tough around here, the lies can be tough. “I think I got a couple bad lies today and I missed a few putts that I wished I would have made.

“So there was a few more out there. We saw low scores, so that’s kind of how I feel. I’m playing good, so I’m happy with that.”
Among those still to finish the first round on Friday was that containing Bermudians Oliver Betschart and Michael Sims, who yet struggled under soft conditions and stand in a tie for 114th place.

Fifteen-year-old Betschart, who made history as the youngest local to compete in the event, was +1 when play was called, tied with 44-year-old Sims after 15 holes played.
Meanwhile, Eric West and Scott Roy anchor the 130 member field after each carded six over scores of 77.

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