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Wales Open 2013: Espen Kofstad and the Biggest Surprises of Round 1

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Wales Open 2013: Espen Kofstad and the Biggest Surprises of Round 1
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Espen Kofstad had an impressive first day.

It was an eventful first round of the 2013 Wales Open—the names at the top of the leaderboard indicate some of the biggest surprises of all. The second day is already underway, but let's look back at a few of the unexpected moments of Round 1.

 

Espen Kofstad

The Norwegian—ranked 304 in the world—set out his stall early with accurate shots and continued to build from there. He finished the round with a seven-under 64 to give him a two-stroke lead. That impressive round also included three birdies and and an eagle on the final four holes, capping off a remarkable day for the 26-year-old.

Kofstad was victorious in the Challenge Tour last year but then developed a neck injury that clearly affected his game. He told BBC Sport that relaxation was the key to his early success at Celtic Manor:

Today I wasn't nervous and it felt really easy. I kept hitting the shots and they came off in the end. I got a little lucky I suppose, holing a long putt on the 17th and the bunker shot on the last. I was only trying to get it 10-15 feet past the hole because it was a tough shot.

It would be great to play in the Ryder Cup, although I can't really expect a spot. But I put in a decent application today.

Watching Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley will definitely be taking notice. 

 

Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Chris Wood will consider himself unlucky not to be leading.

 Chris Wood

It's not a surprise that Chris Wood had an impressive day on something close to home territory for him, shooting a five-under 66. He's the favourite, after all.

However, the surprise here is that he isn't leading the pack after his first round. Starting on the back nine, he hit an eagle on the 15th and a birdie on the 18th. He continued this good form on his final nine holes, only dropping a shot on his final putt of the day.

Perhaps unlucky to be two shots behind Kofstad, Wood has staked his own claim for Ryder Cup contention.

 

Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Paul McGinley remained under par, but it was occasionally a battle to do so.

Paul McGinley

In contrast to both Kofstad and Wood, McGinley had some problems on the opening day of the Open. Although he finished with a one-under 70, he occasionally struggled with his tee shots.

In fact, McGinley stood over the tee to hit the opening shot of the tournament and immediately found heavy rough. Although he managed to return the ball to the fairway, he was unable to remain on par, instead registering the first bogey. However, he remained steady over the course of the round and birdied his final hole to finish under par.

Having Kofstad as his playing partner couldn't have helped his confidence, but McGinley had nothing but praise for the Norwegian when speaking to The Irish Times: "What a finish. To finish birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle is fantastic. He hit it a million miles, hit a lot of fairways, played very well and he deserved that score."

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