London – Tommy Fleetwood was in a three-way tie for the lead at the British Masters on Thursday despite a freak dropped shot when his ball landed in a buggy’s cup holder.
Fleetwood and fellow Englishmen Eddie Pepperell, who hit a hole in one, and Matt Wallace fired rounds of 67 to get to five-under and lead the way from Richard McEvoy, Joakim Lagergren, David Lipsky, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Alexander Levy.
However, Fleetwood’s round was not without incident, with his only bogey coming after his errant tee shot on the par-three 17th finished in a cup holder in a buggy which had been parked to the left of the green.
“I’m still not sure how it got there,” said Fleetwood, who outscored playing partner and Ryder Cup winning teammate Francesco Molinari by six shots.
“Luckily it didn’t go in the beer in the other cup holder because it would have ruined a drink and the golf ball.”
British Open champion Molinari, who leads Fleetwood at the top of the Race to Dubai points list, has been suffering from a back injury since he compiled a perfect 5-0 record in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph last month.
The 35-year-old Italian finished the first round at Walton Heath with a one-over 73 to stand six shots off the pace.
The first hole-in-one of Pepperell’s European Tour career came in remarkable fashion, his five-iron from 172 yards on the ninth seeming to hit the bottom of the flag, bounce high in the air and away from the hole before spinning back into the cup.
“It was a bizarre shot from where I was standing,” Pepperell said. “It looked like it pitched in the hole, jumped up and looked like it was going long because of the height it came out and obviously went in.”
Leading first round scores in the European Tour’s British Masters at Walton Heath Golf Club on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated; par 72)
67 – Matt Wallace, Tommy Fleetwood, Eddie Pepperell
68 – Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), David Lipsky (USA), Richard McEvoy, Joakim Lagergren (SWE)
69 – Steven Brown, Ross Fisher, Alexander Bjork (SWE), Clement Sordet (FRA), Matthew Southgate, Robert Karlsson (SWE), Andy Sullivan, Trevor Immelman (RSA), Wang Jeunghun (KOR), Gavin Green (MAS), Matthew Fitzpatrick
70 – Paul Waring, Callum Shinkwin, Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Julien Guerrier (FRA), Matthias Schwab (AUT), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Lee Slattery, Julian Suri (USA), Tom Lewis, Paul Dunne
71 – Marcus Kinhult (SWE), Richard Bland, Danny Willett, George Coetzee (RSA), Carlos Pigem (ESP), Peter Hanson (SWE), Brett Rumford (AUS), Sam Horsfield, Jordan Smith, Richard Sterne (RSA)
72 – Andrew Johnston, Matteo Manassero (ITA), Martin Kaymer (GER), Jaco Van Zyl (RSA), Oliver Fisher, Tapio Pulkkanen (FIN), Robert Rock, Chase Koepka (USA), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Marcus Fraser (AUS), Paul O’Hara, Zander Lombard (RSA), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), James Morrison, Lucas Herbert (AUS), Marcel Siem (GER), Stephen Gallacher, Jens Dantorp (SWE)
73 – Francesco Molinari (ITA), Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Brandon Stone (RSA), Scott Jamieson, Aaron Rai, Adrien Saddier (FRA), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Austin Connelly (CAN), Nacho Elvira (ESP), Benjamin Hebert (FRA), Erik Van Rooyen (RSA), Darren Fichardt (RSA), Li Haotong (CHN), Romain Wattel (FRA), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Sam Brazel (AUS), Padraig Harrington, Oliver Farr