Kristian Krogh Johannessen is the surprise leader after the first day of the Open de España, and deservedly so, as he had one of the rounds of his life today on the black course at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, 63 shots (-8).
The current world number 909 is in the midst of his rookie season on the European Tour, and things had not been going well for him, until he stepped into the Madrid sun and outplayed the entire ‘Spanish Armada’, led by Adri Arnaus (-6), while Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera, both on -5, also enjoyed solid rounds, despite being overshadowed by the Norwegian.
In the 22 tournaments he has entered on the old continent’s biggest tour, Johannessen has only made the cut in three of them, his best result being a 40th at the Scandinavian Invitation in August.
His 63, besides being his best card in his short career on the European Tour, equalled the course record, which has been held by Seve Ballesteros and Eduardo Romero since 1991.
Your lowest score on the European Tour, you hit the ball well today.
It was a good round. I didn’t hit it perfectly, but hit it in the right spots, even when I missed and I holed some good putts.
You had a great run on your front nine, an interesting few holes?
It was really good. I holed out a wedge from the rough, which felt good, and then I backed that up with a there-putt, so I was a bit pissed. But I made birdie again and was on a roll and finished strong, I’m happy with that.
Strongest part of your game?
My approach shots were really good. I didn’t drive it perfectly, but it didn’t cost me any shots.
A tough year for you so far? You must be looking forward to building on this?
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.
Great crowds out here with some of the big Spanish names here also. Were the crowds good to you out there?
It’s great that those guys came to this event to play, all credit to them and it makes the tournament even better.
A three-time winner on the Nordic Golf League, what can you take from those experiences?
I just need to keep calm, play my own game and not get stressed out there. It’s a bit tricky, so if you get stressed you start easily making mistakes. I just need to keep cool and play my own game.
Photo: European Tour