LUKE Joy carded an opening-round 63 to lead the HotelPlanner.com Championship at Cumberwell Park by one stroke on eight under par today.
The Dorset golfer led a field which scored well on the first day of the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour event on the par-71 red and yellow course.
Spaniard Sebastian Garcia Grout is one behind the leader and five golfers share third on six under, just two off the top.
Joy was five under after his first nine holes and made it seven when he eagled 11. A bogey at 13 set him back a shot but 26-year-old moved to the top of the leaderboard with birdies at 16 and 17.
“I played really solidly today,” said Joy. “I got the pace of the greens down nicely and apart from a one-off shot which saw me make bogey on a par three I had it under control throughout.
“I have had a solid season and everything is coming together. I feel that I am knocking on the door and hopefully I can barge on through if I keep this week going the way it is.
“I think if you play well you will score well this week. The one thing to watch out for is it is playing short, so you don’t have to hit as much off the tee. It is a little bit risk-reward because of that; you could hit driver and go for a chip on and that offers some birdie opportunities.”
Among the local challengers, Saltford's Laurie Canter was at four under, with Cumberwell Park's Matt Swales and Steve Surry both on one under par.
The HotelPlanner.com Championship carries a £40,000 prize fund with the winner receiving £10,000, which is crucial money to add to the Order of Merit from which the top five at the end of the season are rewarded with Challenge Tour categories for 2015.
The 54-hole strokeplay event sees 156 of Europe’s best young golfers competing, with a cut to the top 50 players and ties to be made after Thursday’s second round.
Friday’s final round will be filmed for a two-hour highlights package to be broadcast on Sky Sports on July 1. Spectator entry is free throughout the week and live scoring can be found at europrotour.com.