Stephen Gallacher is readying himself for a bout of low scoring as the race for the Nordea Masters heats up in Sweden.
Gallacher is one shot off the lead jointly held by Jens Dantorp and Eddie Pepperell after a fine five under-par 67 opening round at PGA Sweden National in Malmo yesterday and he expects he will have to produce a low-scoring performance for the next three rounds if he is to be in contention for the title on Sunday.
The Press and Journal columnist said: “It’s always nice to get off to a good start. It was quite cool in the morning so I’m delighted with five under par.
“It was a lot warmer than yesterday thankfully, but spring in Sweden is fine by me. We wrap up and get on with it and the course played like a links course.
“The greens are in brilliant condition and the fairways are good. It’s young but it has got potential. It’s a decent inland course.
“There are a lot of guys thinking they can win and there are good scores out there if I play well. If the wind blows par will be a good score, but it’s definitely warmed up a lot and that means we could get anything if it stays that way.”
Fellow Scot Craig Lee is a shot further behind on four under while Aberdonians Paul Lawrie and Richie Ramsay are level. Dantorp made full use of home advantage as he took a share of the first round lead.
While most eyes were on fellow Swede and world number two Henrik Stenson, who was playing the event for the first time since 2011, Malmo native Dantorp fired a bogey-free 66 to share the lead with Pepperell.
“This is my home course so I try to play it as much as I can when I’m home,” said Dantorp. “I can’t really explain how good the support I got was. All my friends were here and there was so much applause. That was one of the biggest keys to my success.
“Peter Hanson has helped me a lot. It’s great to go to the States to see him over the winter when you can’t practice here. He’s been a great mentor to me and has helped me through things, so I feel more comfortable in situations such as this.”
Stenson sat three shots behind following an opening 69 to leave him alongside Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez whose recent good form has catapulted him to the brink of Ryder Cup qualification at the age of 50.
Stenson’s erratic 69 contained just seven pars as he began his campaign to avenge a painful play-off defeat to Mark Hensby in 2005. Stenson and Jimenez were in a large group at three under including Scot Scott Jamieson, English duo Simon Dyson and Oliver Fisher, home favourite Peter Hanson and France’s Victor Dubuisson.
Thomas Bjorn was on two under after an opening 70 while in-form Shane Lowry was a further shot back.