Argentina’s Tano Goya leads the Moravia Silesia Open by one from Midlanders John Bickerton and Steve Webster after a seven-under par 65 on the European Tour’s return to the Czech Republic after a 12-year gap.
Goya, winner of the Madeira Islands Open in March and one of four players from his country to win on the circuit already this season, went to the turn in just 30 strokes.
Four days after helping compatriot Ricardo Gonzalez to celebrate his victory in Sweden the 21-year-old said: “I stayed to watch and it’s always good when one of us plays well.”
Chris Wood, third in The Open two weeks ago, was three under with two to play on his return to action after picking up a wrist injury in the Turnberry rough, but bogeyed them both for a 71.
That was in stark contrast to 39-year-old Bickerton, who closed with birdies on the eighth and ninth.
“Satisfying – it’s been a while since I’ve played decently,” said the former French Open champion. “Fingers crossed it will continue the rest of the week. It’s easy to criticise the course, but they’ve made a massive effort to put the tournament on.
“The next few years will bring a lot more maturity and it will get better and better. I gather they’ve had some bad weather and they’ve done a good job on what could have been a disaster.”
Webster birdied five of the first 10 and came back from a bogey on the 13th with further birdies at the next two.
Scot Callum Macaulay was delighted with his 68 after starting with a double bogey seven.
“I hit a terrible drive into the jungle on the left and didn’t get it out, but didn’t do much wrong after that.
“I was obviously annoyed, but better then than at the last hole – you’ve got time to recover.”
Goya was playing with 49-year-old South African David Frost, who started with a 72 in what is his last event in Europe before going off to prepare for his US Champions Tour debut in September.
“That’s the great thing about golf,” he commented. “We’re not put on the back burner after we’ve reached our peak. It gives you a chance to keep going.”
Course designer Miguel Angel Jimenez matched Wood’s 71, as did the other two Midlanders in the field, Robert Ro0ck and Paul Broadhurst but German Alex Cejka, back in the country from which he and his father fled when he was nine, managed only a 75.