Anders Schmidt Hansen

Anders Schmidt Hansen leads after day one of the Finnish Open – Presented by ECCO (photo: Juha Taskinen)

Anders Schmidt Hansen shot a 66 in the first round of the Finnish Open – Presented by ECCO at Master Golf in Helsinki. The Experienced Dane holds a one shot lead over Henrik Hilford Brander. Several Finnish players, let by the amateurs, are in the chase, while the European Tour legends struggle on day one.

Master Golf gave the players a tough test on the first day of the Finnish Open. Conditions were perfect with sun and only little wind, and with the course not ranking among the longest golf courses by modern standard, chances were that scores would be very low.

However, length does not always matter, and the tricky Master Golf course fought back against the strong field, with Anders Schmidt Hansen one of few players really getting the better of the course.

– I hit a few poor shots today, but in general I am very happy right now, he explained after the round.

– It was important with a good start. I made a birdie and an eagle early in my round, which meant that I could play with a lot of patience, and just wait for the next birdie, the 35 year old Dane told the press after his round.

Anders Schmidt Hansen is known to be one of the most experienced players in the field, and with a clever approach, good accuracy and great putting as his primary strengths this could very well be a great week for the Juelsminde player, who has played on the Challenge Tour for the last decade.

Behind Anders Schmidt Hansen follows a strong list of players. Henrik Hilford Brander i one shot back at five under par, while several players are tied for third place at four under. Among others we here find Patrick O’Neill, Niclas Johansson, Christopher Lang and Benny Ahlenbäck.

Tuomas Salminen

Tuomas Salminen shot 4 under par in the first round, and is in third place only two shots behind the leader at the Finnish Open – Presented by ECCO (photo: Juha Taskinen)

Finnish Amateurs on the hunt
Also tied for third is the Finnish amateur, Tuomas Salminen. Salminen had six birdies and only two bogeys on his way to a round of 68. Contradicting first round tendencies, Salminen picked up his shots on the latter part of his round, where most players were struggling to save pars.

– My putting and short game was very good today. I can certainly improve on my long game for tomorrow, which I intend go and work on now, Tuomas Salminen, explained after his round.

Another Finnish Amateur, Albert Eckhardt, finds him selv just one shot further back in 9th place after a round of 69. Eckhardt was prior to the tournament endorsed by many, but despite the extra attention, Eckhardt sticked to his game, and is still in the hunt of a big result.

Kim Kuivu ends the Finnish amateur-trio in the top of the leaderboard. Kuivo also posted a 69, three under par on the first day to prove that the amateur attack can come from several talents. Will someone copy Tapio Pulkkanen, who won the Finnish Open as an amateur in 2012?

Alongside Eckhardt and Kuivu, Toni Karjalainen also shot a 69. Getting up and down – or should we say down and in – from a very tricky lie on the 18th secured the Finn a great par to rap up his round. Karjalainen afterwards admitted that today’s round was only his 9th round of the season. 

Olli Järvi and Tuomas Tuovinen also shot 69, to finish tied for 9th after the first round. Thereby Finland has six players in the top-10!

Carlos Rodiles Finnish Open

Carlos Rodiles has work to do friday, if he want to make the cut at the Finnish Open (Photo: Juha Taskinen)

European Tour legends with work to do
Patrick Sjöland and Carlos Rodiles, internationally perhaps the two biggest names in the field, both had to work hard during the first round. Three time European Tour winner, Patrick Sjöland finished his day on level par, while Carlos Rodiles were a bit more unfortunate. At the end of the day the scorecard said 77 (+5) for the Spaniard, and the former Runner up at Volvo Masters at Valderrama is in danger of missing the cut.

– I haven’t played many tournaments in recent months, as I don’t have any category on neither the European Tour nor the Challenge Tour, Rodiles explained before the round.

– I have, however, practiced a lot all season, so I am in good shape, but tournament golf is something else, the three-time European Tour runner-up said.

The Spaniard’s aim this season is to get in shape for the European Qualifying School and secure a return to the finest golf stage in Europe. There seems to still be some work ahead, before he again will be fighting for the big money on the European Tour.

Join the party at Master Golf
The Finnish audience should get ready to drive to Master Golf on Friday and Saturday, as there seems to be plenty of good golf and national players to cheer for. There are several Finnish players in contention for the win, and 16 Finns inside the cut after day one, before things will heat up over the next two days at Master Golf’s beautiful golf course.

Play continues Friday morning at 7:30 AM, before the final round is played on Saturday. You find teetimes on eccotour.org/scores and you can also find the ECCO Tour on Facebook, where pictures, results and much more is uploaded daily.

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