Former World Amateur Number One Peter Uihlein carded a stunning nine under par round of 63 to storm into a two shot lead after the opening round of the Kazakhstan Open, the European Challenge Tour’s ‘Major’.
Uihlein has been in an impressive run of form, recording top ten finishes in his last five starts on the Challenge Tour, and he got off to the perfect start in the €400,000 event at Zhailjau Golf Resort thanks to an incredible eight birdies and one eagle on day one.
Having teed off at the 10th hole, the Massachusetts man birdied four holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the par 17th hole. But back to back birdies at the second and third, followed by two more at the fifth and seventh, moved him to seven under par for the day.
He put the icing on the cake of a fine day’s golf at the 341 yard par four eighth hole, where he drove the ball to just three feet before knocking in for an eagle two.
“It was a good day,” said the 23 year old. “I putted badly in Russia last week so I've spent a lot of time on it preparing for this week. It’s nice to see results so quickly.
“I'm just hitting it well at the moment. I went through a spell of just really hitting it poorly and I'm starting to hit it better again. I really appreciate hitting it so well and feeling good out on the course.
“I'm just trying to treat it like any other tournament out there. I did that today and it’s nice to get off to a good start but there are three more days so anything can happen.”
Having experienced a trying start to life as a professional, the 2010 US Amateur Champion is starting to show why he is regarded as one of the most promising up and coming stars in the game.
Now, he is keen to push on and claim a win which would nigh on guarantee a European Tour card for the 2013 season.
“I've been in contention for the last five or six tournaments,” said Uihlein. “It has been good and as long as I keep putting myself in position things will go my way some day and I can get that victory. I’m playing well enough, it’s just been down to my putting recently. It hasn’t been good enough to win and today was better so it was nice.”
Seve Benson was in second place after the Englishman signed for a seven under par round of 65, which included two eagles in the space of four holes before the turn in favourable conditions at the Almaty venue.
After the 25 year old got off to the ideal start with back to back birdies at the first and second holes, a bogey halted his progress but only briefly as he chipped in from the edge of the green for eagle at the par five fifth hole.
The 2012 Barclays Kenya Open champion followed that up with another eagle at the par four eighth, after driving to eight feet, before rolling in the resultant putt to reach the turn in five under par. Three birdies and another bogey saw him home in seven under to move into contention for a fourth Challenge Tour title.
“I managed to keep the momentum going out there when I could have maybe lost a little bit,” said the 25 year old. “I got up and down when I needed to and I felt like I putted well today but other than that it wasn’t a lot different from previous weeks to be honest.
“I've been working really hard on my game, on the mental side as well as the playing side and if it happens it happens this week, but I'm just going to persevere and see if I can get to where I want to get to.”
Also in tied second was the man Benson beat in a play-off in Kenya in April to claim his most recent Challenge Tour title - Lasse Jensen.
The Dane carded a bogey-free round of 65 despite having taken a huge risk on the eve of the tournament by changing his putting grip on the advice of compatriot Mark Haastrup.
Scotland’s Scott Henry, Alexander Levy of France and another American, Scott Pinckney, shared fourth place on six under par.