Date: October 24, 2008

O’Malley starts slowly

Soren Kjeldsen shot a seven-under-par 64 to lead by one shot after the first day of the Castello Masters and afterwards revealed he was glad to be back in form after the disappointment of missing out on a place in the European Ryder Cup team. The Dane had his heart set on making Nick Faldo&aposs team and claims his game suffered as a result of his failure to do so. The 33-year-old tied for 30th at the British Masters in September then finished a disappointing 13-over par for joint 131st at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland last month. Last week he tied for 16th at the Portugal Masters to signal an upturn in fortunes, and he improved even further with an impressive round in Spain on Thursday. “For me it was sort of a post-mortem Ryder Cup thing,” said Kjeldsen. “I desperately wanted to get on the team but I didn&apost make it and it knocked me a bit.” “When I didn&apost make it maybe I was out there with not the best focus.” “I wasn&apost sure what I was trying to achieve because the goal was gone. It took me a while to get things into perspective and get on with it.” On leading today, Kjeldsen added: “It was a very solid round. I&aposm hitting it pretty straight especially with my short irons.” “My plan is just to keep playing the same and trust in myself.” “There is a long way to go but today was a great start.” One shot back on six-under were Englishman Richard Finch, Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, Argentinian Angel Cabrera and Swede Peter Hanson, while seven players including Spanish pair Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal were five-under after rounds of 66. The only Australasian in the tournament, Peter O&aposMalley, is tied for 68th after a slow start to fire a one-over 72. Tournament favourite Garcia, who is hosting the event at the club he played as a boy and where his father is still the professional, closed his round with three successive birdies. “Scoring-wise it was good but I know I need to play a little better,” said Garcia. “It feels good playing at home this week. It&aposs good fun. There has been a lot of build-up to it and it&aposs finally here and I was a little nervous this morning.” Two other players on five-under are Yorkshireman Simon Dyson and 2002 Open runner-up Thomas Levet, who are aiming for good performances to secure entry to next week&aposs season-ending Volvo Masters. Only the top 60 players in the Order of Merit gain exemption for the event at Valderrama, and the pair sit 62nd and 61st respectively. Finch, who has won twice on the European Tour this year, most recently at the Irish Open in May, was one of a number of players to have a bogey-free card. “I&aposm pleased with six under,” said Finch, who earned his 2008 tour card by the skin of his teeth last year, rising to 113th after an excellent performance in the penultimate tournament. “I played well on the front nine but it could have been better.” “I had many opportunities to make birdies. But the most important thing is to keep bogeys off your card.” Castello Masters, Spain Results Round 1 (Par 71) -7: Soren Kjeldsen 64 -6: Angel Cabrera 65, Richard Finch 65, Ignacio Garrido 65, Peter Hanson 65 -5: John Bickerton 66, Francois Delamontagne 66, Simon Dyson 65, Sergio Garcia 65, Thomas Levet 66, Jose Maria Olazabal 66, Alvaro Velasco 66 -4: Phillip Archer 67, Stephen Gallacher 67, Ricardo Gonzalez 67, David Griffiths 67, Garry Houston 67, Mikael Lundberg 67, David Lynn 67, Alvaro Quiros 67, Justin Rose 67, Miles Tunnicliff 67, Steve Webster 67 Also: +1: Peter O Malley (Australia) 72