Tjaart van der Walt takes one-shot lead at Najeti Hotels Open in St Omer
Last Updated: 13/06/13 11:29pm
Tjaart van der Walt: Yet to win a professional event in 14 years
Tjaart van der Walt defied cool and blustery conditions in St Omer to claim the first-round lead at the Najeti Hotels Open.
The South African took advantage of an early start to return a four-under 67 that proved good enough for a one-shot lead over Frenchman Victor Rui by the end of a day in which only five players broke par.
The 38-year-old, starting on the back nine, carded five birdies and just one mistake at the third, and he was delighted to back up his accuracy off the tee with some good form on the greens.
First round leaderboard
(GB and Ire unless stated)
-4 T van der Walt (SA)
-3 V Riu (Fra)
-2 D Brooks
-1 D Gaunt (Aus)
-1 O Rozner (Fra)
Click here for collated scores
"I drive straight so I can take the driver more than a lot of guys and if you can shape it with the wind you'll get an extra 20 or 30 yards out of the tee shot, which helps," said Van der Walt, who has yet to win in 14 years as a professional.
"I managed the ball really well: I have been doing that well the last few weeks but the putting hasn't been great. I holed a few putts, which was good."
Rui claimed outright second after a stunning finish to his opener, following up birdies at the seventh and eighth with an eagle at the ninth.
England's Daniel Brooks is a shot further back after staging an excellent recovery from a triple-bogey eight at the 14th - his fifth.
The Londoner got back to two over with birdies at the 17th and fourth, and he then eagled both the seventh and ninth to claim third on his own at two under.
But Simon Dyson, the highest ranked player in the field at 165th, dropped shots at three of his last five holes to return a disappointing 72.