Despite what many may be tempted into thinking, golf is very much a marathon, not a sprint—and this weekend’s European Masters is no different.
While a good start is always preferred, it's not quite compulsory to get off to a rolling start in order to challenge for top spot come Sunday’s finale.
As always, some stars have failed to light up the course from the get-go in Switzerland this weekend, but they are sure to pose more of a challenge Friday, lest they not make the cut.
Having played in 18 European Tour events this year, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen has been among the most involved stars of the series and has earned a prize fund of almost €1 million.
Last week, as the European Tour can tell, the Finn ran into some airline trouble:
The 34-year-old shot a Day 1 score of 72, which puts him one over for the event so far, neither among the front-runners nor out of the title race.
An eagle on the 17th was the highlight of Ilonen’s Thursday outing, where the Finn will have certainly learned some lessons about his Alps surroundings and be ready for Friday’s return.
Currently 42nd in the overall world golf rankings, Jamie Donaldson has built up a very impressive head of steam this year.
The Welshman has managed to win sizeable prize pots in just about every European Tour event he’s played in over the last nine months, the biggest of which was, of course, his first-place victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January.
In fact, Donaldson’s 154th-place result at last month’s U.S. PGA Championship was the first time he’s finished outside the top 65 this year.
Having hit a four-over score in the Swiss Alps this Thursday, a push of the reset button could see Donaldson surge up the European Masters standings.
One of the leading names on the Race to Dubai this season, Matteo Manassero’s Day 1 round of 70 puts the Italian in good stead to maintain some fine form this weekend.
The 20-year-old is the youngest player ever to win a European Tour event and could soon add to that accolade with another stage victory this weekend.
However, lest he rely solely on his opponents having a calamitous fall, a bigger Day 2 performance would definitely buoy his hopes to win on Sunday.