Adri Arnaus and Niklas Lemke both carded six under par rounds of 66 and share the Day One lead at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.
During a day of low scoring at Al Hamra Golf Club it was Sweden’s Lemke who struck first, carding six birdies and a much-needed blemish-free round for the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number 37 who can only guarantee graduation to the European Tour with victory this week.
Lemke’s sublime score was eventually matched by Spain’s Arnaus who found himself in the first round lead for the fourth time this season – two more occasions than any other European Challenge Tour player.
Tom Murray, the man who began the week occupying the 15th and final graduation spot, showed real strength with a bounce-back birdie on the closing par five 18th hole, after a painful double-bogey on the 17th, to sign for a five under par 67 and a share of third place.
Joining the Englishman in a tie for third are a pair of French winners from this season, Road to Ras Al Khaimah Number Two, Victor Perez, and Romain Langasque.
Langasque began the tournament in 25th in the Rankings and will need to keep his foot on the accelerator with three rounds to go as he is currently projected to finish outside the top 15.
As things stand, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre holds the 15th and final spot inside the top 15, with America’s Sean Crocker the only player dropping out from before the event.
Kim Koivu, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour this year, once again put the field on notice as the first year professional bagged six birdies to take sole possession of sixth place on four under par.
The Finn is aiming to put the cherry on top of a breakout season as he guns for a fourth win and the top spot on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah.
“My eagle on the 14th was huge for me and I finished my round well so I’m really hoping to get over the line and get the win this week. It would be really special for me to end the Challenge Tour season with a victory.”
“My aim is to get to the top 15 and to do so I have to win the tournament. It is a good thing to know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve my goal.”
“To be honest the pins were really tucked, we’d seen them before the round and my caddy and I talked about our game plan. Pretty much every one of them was tucked away and with the little bit of wind that there was it was tricky.
“I’ve been playing well for two or three months and I’m in a good position so I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing and see what happens.”
“I usually try not to watch what other guys are doing, I don’t look at their ball flight or their shots really. I try to focus on my game, golf is hard enough, and its nice to be paired with the guys who have been playing really good golf all year, but I’m going to just keep focusing on myself.”
“I really want to get back on to the European Tour. I was on Tour last year and that was totally different, this is where I want to be, I’m 23 and I continue to learn every day and I try to become better and better all the time so I will just continue to make my dream come true and focus on what I need to do to become better.”