Lichfield golfer Robert Rock produced a superb round on the opening day of the European Open at The London Golf Club but his four-under-par score was eclipsed by fellow Englishman Ross Fisher’s incredible course record round of 63.
Rock bounced back from the disappointment last Monday of failing to qualify for the Open at Sunningdale by firing seven birdies but he also showed his inconsistency by dropping shots on the first, third and 16th holes.
However, his round of 68, which left him tied in fifth place with six other players, is a welcome return to form for the 31-year-old, who is 136th in the Volvo Order of Merit and battling to retain his European Tour card.
“I didn’t make the best of starts,” said Rock, who is also ranked 45th on the Challenge Tour. “It was early and it took me several holes to get going but after that I was quite pleased with my round. It was nice to bounce back after the disappointment of Sunningdale although I would still have preferred to qualify for the Open but it wasn’t to be. My main aim now is to retain my European Tour place and finish as high as I can on the Challenge Tour, which means I need to pick and choose my events well.
“Doing well here certainly wouldn’t do my cause any harm and I haven’t got off to a bad start, although my round was eclipsed somewhat by Ross Fisher.”
Fisher was certainly in sensational form. Three days after finishing joint third at Sunningdale, the 27-year-old finished with six birdies for a spectacular nine-under 63 and break the course record set by Seve Ballesteros in 1984.
It was also the lowest round of his European Tour career. Rock said: “I spoke to some of the guys who played with Ross and they said he drove the ball superbly, which around this course will always give you birdie opportunities. It will be interesting to see how he follows that up during the second round but you can’t take anything away from him, that was a superb round of golf.”
Two shots behind Fisher are David Frost, of South Africa, and Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, who had superb rounds of 65. Rory McIroy is fourth on five under.
Atherstone’s Paul Broadhurst, who decided not to attend the Open qualifying at Sunningdale because he was so disappointed with his form, fired a level par 72 on the opening day while Steve Webster and Wolverhampton’s Peter Baker, both of whom qualified for the Open, finished the day one stroke back, as did Redditch’s John Bickerton.
Cousins Sam Walker and Tom Whitehouse will need a better second round than their first if they are to qualify. Walker finished three over par, one stroke ahead of Whitehouse. Defending champion Colin Montgomerie finished two under par and Open champion Padraig Harrington finished at level par.