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Johannessen leads way but Hoey in fight to make cut

Krogh Johannessen
Krogh Johannessen

By Phil Casey

World No.909 Kristian Krogh Johannessen outshone a host of home favourites to claim a shock lead after day one of the Mutuactivos Open de Espana.

Johannessen, who has missed the cut 13 times in 17 events in his rookie season on the European Tour, carded an eagle and seven birdies in an eight-under-par 63 at Club de Campo to lead by two shots from Adri Arnaus.

Defending champion Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who made up the marquee all-Spanish group with Arnaus, were a shot further back on five under alongside Marcel Siem, Andrea Pavan, Dean Burmester and Jamie Donaldson.

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey is at two over after an opening round of 73 and faces a battle to make the cut.

Johannessen started his round from the 10th and birdied the 13th and 14th before holing out for an eagle on the par-four 15th.

The 24-year-old Norwegian dropped his only shot by three-putting the 16th but birdied the next and picked up four more shots in his last six.

"It was a good round," Johannessen said. "I didn't hit it perfectly but hit it in the right spots, even when I missed, and I holed some good putts. I'm out there having fun and playing smart. It's a tricky course, but I've got a friend on the bag this week and we're having fun out there.

"I just need to keep calm, play my own game and not get stressed. It's a bit tricky, so if you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool."

Rahm, who can overtake Open champion Shane Lowry at the top of the Race to Dubai with a good performance in Madrid, carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in his 66.

"It was always a dream to win the Spanish Open and definitely a career goal of mine to be a multiple champion," the World No.5 said. "I've not been able to successfully defend a title, so hopefully I can make it happen this week."

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