Graeme Storm surges into joint lead after run of birdies

Hartlepool golfer Graeme Storm one of seven players out in front in Portugal Masters

Warren Little/Getty Images Graeme Storm of England in action
Graeme Storm of England in action

Graeme Storm went on an amazing birdie spree in the Algarve yesterday to become one of seven players leading after the first round of the Portugal Masters.

This continues a happy week for Rockliffe Hall, where Storm is attached, following lavish praise which greeted their staging of the English Senior Open.

The former French Open champion, British Amateur title holder and Walker Cup winner looked set for a routine day at the office when he birdied the ninth hole at the Oceanico Victoria course.

Following a bogey at five, that left the 35-year-old from Hartlepool level par for the front nine. But it was the start of five birdies in a row and in all Storm signed for six birdies on the back nine, coming home in 30 and needing only 27 putts for the round.

He starts today on six-under 65, saying: “Everything seemed to go particularly well.”

Storm’s favourite memory of the round was his closing birdie at the 463-yard 18th, where a drive and six-iron left him with a ten-foot putt successfully negotiated.

Meanwhile Mickley Square’s Chris Paisley is hoping for a burst of top-notch form soon. The Race to Dubai ends after after next week’s Perth International with Paisley estimating he needs somewhere around a top ten finish from one of the two tournaments to keep his card.

But both Paisley and Penrith’s Gary Lockerbie are flirting with the cut. Paisley is tied 69th on par 71, with Lockerbie tied 103rd two shots further back on a day 68 players broke par.

The other six players sharing the lead with Storm are Seve Trophy team-mates Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn, Ireland’s Simon Thornton, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and German Max Kieffer. Two more Seve Trophy players, England’s Chris Wood and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, were among a nine-strong group one off the lead, while a relaxed approach to the pressure of trying to keep his card paid off for Scotland’s Chris Doak with an opening 67.

Doak is 112th on the Race to Dubai with only the top 110 keeping their full playing privileges for 2014.

“It’s a great start,” said the 35-year-old from Glasgow. “I said to myself three under each day you would be round about there so it’s a good start.

“It’s the total opposite this week to the rest of the season, just try to relax a bit more. I felt over the season I have been trying too hard when I have been up there.

“I came here on Sunday and had a few days to get used to the course and conditions.

“If anybody says they don’t know what number they are on the money list they might be lying. You’ve got to know.

“For me I like to know what I have to do but it’s just a different attitude this week which has been working so far.”

Robert Coles is also struggling to keep his card and matched Doak’s 67, but the Englishman will have had mixed emotions after leading by three shots when he played his first 12 holes in seven under par.

Coles, currently 164th on the Race to Dubai, then bogeyed the 13th and found water off the tee on the next to run up a double-bogey six before closing with four pars.

The 41-year-old has managed just one top-20 finish all season – in the very first event in South Africa which was reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather – and is still looking for his first European Tour victory in more than 360 events.

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