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Jordan Smith and Connor Syme share the lead after the opening round of the ISPS HANDA Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort, where they both enjoyed strong finishes in last week’s Celtic Classic played upon the same golf course.
This week’s event is the second in succession to be played over the Twenty Ten Course at the Wales venue, which famously held The 2010 Ryder Cup, but it presented a very different challenge as the wind switched direction on day one of the fifth tournament in the European Tour's UK Swing.
Smith, who ended last week with his best round of the tournament courtesy of a closing 67 on Sunday, went one better as the Englishman signed for a five-under opening round 66 to briefly take the outright lead.
He was soon joined at the top by Syme, who recorded his best result of the season here last week courtesy of a tied third finish. The 25-year-old Scot holed a monster putt for birdie at the difficult par five 18th to ensure his name was one of those atop the leaderboard heading into round two.
Syme’s countryman Robert MacIntyre – playing in his first UK Swing event – was two shots behind in a share of third on three under par, alongside Kurt Kitayama of the USA, England’s Callum Shinkwin and Swede Sebastian Soderberg. “It was just about keeping a level head today. A lot of the holes out there were different to last week. You can even see on the last there, hardly anyone is going for it. So it’s just about taking advantage of the short holes and just hanging in there on the really tough par holes." said Smith after his round Syme had the following to say of his round: “It was good, it was playing tricky obviously with the wind. We were thinking a little bit about how they might change the golf course but the wind has certainly done that for us – a completely different direction and a lot stronger.”