VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic (AP) — Louis de Jager shot an 8-under 64 to to equal the course record and take a one-shot lead over two-time champion Thomas Pieters after the opening round of the Czech Masters on Thursday.
Seeking his first European tour title, the South African completed a flawless round with an eighth birdie on the par-4 18th.
“I’m very pleased,” De Jager said. “It was quite tricky out there today, the wind was from all different directions but me and my caddie made some good calls out there.”
Pieters, who is the highest-ranked player at the event at No. 35, set the pace with three birdies on the opening three holes. He added two more birdies on the sixth and eighth before dropping a shot on the par-5 10th.
But the 30-year-old Belgian rebounded with four straight birdies, starting on the 12th before dropping another shot on the 18th.
“I made some putts that me and my playing partners thought were going to miss today, the greens were getting very bumpy near the end,” Pieters said. “I think I got a bit of luck, put some good strokes on it. It was tough putting.”
Pieters won at the Albatross Golf Resort in 2015 for the first of his six European tour titles and triumphed again here in 2019.
Four players were tied for third another shot back. They included defending champion Johannes Veerman, who won his maiden European tour title here. The American made seven birdies before his lone bogey on the par-3 16th.
The others were Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, who finished tied for second last year, Jordan Gumberg of the United States and Germany’s Marcel Schneider.
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