European Tour

Luiten leads at Celtic Manor

Joost Luiten (AFP)
Joost Luiten (AFP)

Newport - Joost Luiten led the Wales Open by one shot after the first round on Thursday as the buildup to next week's Ryder Cup gave some players a chance to hone their game.

The Dutchman was even par after eight holes before reeling off seven birdies, including one at the final hole, to stand alone at the top of the leaderboard.

Nicolas Colsaerts set a European Tour record for the longest drive when he smashed the ball 447yds (408.74m) on his way to an eagle at the 18th and is one shot back.

He is joined by Scotland's Andrew McArthur after both players carded five under par 66s on the par-71 layout.

The 31-year-old Colsaerts, who was the first Belgian to play the Ryder Cup as part of Jose Maria Olazabal's team that memorably defeated the USA two years ago at Medinah, admitted he is feeling the disappointment of missing out next week at Gleneagles, Scotland.

European captain Paul McGinley is in attendance at the Celtic Manor Resort this week, the venue for Ryder Cup victory over the USA in 2010, in order to put the finishing touches on his preparations.

McGinley had dinner with four of his players, Jamie Donaldson, Lee Westwood, Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Bjorn on Wednesday, which didn't go unnoticed by Colsaerts and other onlookers.

Donaldson is the highest placed Ryder Cup player in the field after a one-under par 70 left him five shots back.

"I saw them having dinner and thought 'I wish I was in that room," said Colsaerts, who picked up a fourball victory alongside Westwood at Medinah in 2012.

"It's their adventure and I am not part of it, but once you play in one Ryder Cup, you don't want to miss another one."

However, he marked a sensational opening round with his monster drive and is in good shape going into day two.

"I thought it was too far right but it's all downhill and downwind and it must have luged down the fairway," Colsaerts continued.

"If all the stars align you can hit it a long way."

McGinley requested ahead of the tournament to have the course set up similar to the Ryder Cup layout which suited Colsaert's playing partner Tommy Fleetwood who is three shots off the lead and won the Jonnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last year.

"The par fives are a little bit easier around Gleneagles I think, but apart from that, it's similar," said the Englishman, who is not part of McGinley's team.

"I like the course and I enjoy playing it. It suits me and if there's a few more similarities to Gleneagles I'll be happy."

Leading scores after the first round of the Wales Open at the Celtic Manor Resort on Thursday (GBR and IRL unless stated, par 71):

65 - Joost Luiten (NED)
66 - Andrew McArthur, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL)
67 - Sam Walker, Robert Rock, Justin Walters (RSA)
68 - Craig Lee, Steve Webster, Daniel Brooks, Ricardo Santos (POR), Simon Wakefield, Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Jamie McLeary, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Eddie Pepperell
69 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Patrik Sjoland (SWE), Richie Ramsay, Ross Fisher, Oliver Fisher, Johan Carlsson (SWE), Joachim B Hansen (DEN), Romain Wattel (FRA), Niclas Fasth (SWE), Mark Foster, Gregory Havret (FRA)
70 - Sihwan Kim (KOR), Daniel Gaunt (AUS), Daniel Im (USA), David Howell, John Hahn (USA), Mathias Gronberg (SWE), Matthew Baldwin, Anthony Wall, Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Paul Casey, Thomas Norret (DEN), Marc Warren, Nathan Holman (AUS), Jamie Donaldson, Wade Ormsby (AUS), Adrian Otaegui (ESP)
71 - Francesco Molinari (ITA), Damien McGrane, Maximilian Kieffer (GER), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Graeme Storm, Scott Jamieson, Robert Karlsson (SWE), Peter Uihlein (USA), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Nacho Elvira (ESP), Simon Thornton, Rafael Cabrera Bello (ESP), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Bradley Dredge, Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Estanislao Goya (ARG), Kristoffer Broberg (SWE), Phillip Price, David Boote, Seve Benson, James Morrison, Simon Khan, Brett Rumford (AUS), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Phillip Archer

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